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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Aug 11, 2023

Forgiveness of Debts

The new month of Elul [this coming Wednesday night] famously opens us to a time of renewed intimacy. As we gear up for the Yamim Noraim, the holiest days of the year [known as the High Holy Days], we enter into the holy of holies of the Jewish heart.

Aug 4, 2023

Intentional Vulnerability

“Circumcise the foreskin of your heart and stiffen your necks no more,” implores Moses (Deut. 10:16), attempting to convince the Israelites to open themselves up — and cleave to the God who so passionately, and often inexplicably, loves them… In its exhortation to lay naked one’s heart and make supple one’s throat, it asks us to lower our defenses, to surrender, to make the leap of faith that is absolutely necessary to live a fully realized and awakened existence.

Jul 28, 2023

You Can Go the Distance – But Don't

“Within the limits of the law” is the principle referred to by the rabbis of the Talmud as Lifnim meshurat hadin and it is deployed by the Talmud to describe cases when the Sages, the masters of Jewish law, stop short of deploying the full measure of their power and don’t prescribe the entirety of what the law would entitle in the situation.

Jul 21, 2023

The Shelter of Shabbat

The morning I wrote this... In the eastern sky there was the tiniest sliver of the crescent moon, just rising, heart-breakingly beautiful. It was just a few days before the month of Av began, with that same crescent moon setting in the west. We are heading towards the end of the Three Weeks, the period between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, the season of loss and horror in our mythic history.

Jul 14, 2023

Killing Midianites?!

This week Parsha Mattot-Maasei contains some very difficult passages about the Israelites being commanded to kill the Midianites. When the Israelites go to battle, they kill all the Midianite males as well as their 5 kings and they also kill Balaam, the prophet who was supposed to curse the Israelites but instead ended up blessing them.

Jul 7, 2023

The Hallmark of a Just and Righteous Society

In this week's Torah portion, Pinchas, we read a wonderful account of how Judaism shifted the world’s paradigm on how to treat people, especially women.

Jun 30, 2023

Critique Carefully

The second portion of this week’s double parshah of Chukat/Balak is centered around the character of Bilaam, the seer - and prophet-for-hire -- those who he cursed would indeed be cursed; those who he blessed would indeed be blessed. The Moabite king Balak hires Bilaam to join him and curse the Israelites, whose power and number intimidated him.

Jun 23, 2023

Korach Walks Among Us

The rabbis of the Talmud taught that Korach was a Torah scholar or Talmid Chacham because of the Halachic questions he asked Moses. They also taught that Korach was wealthy, but used his wealth, not for the benefit of the Israelites, but to further his personal goal of usurping Moses.

Jun 16, 2023

Curiosity Over Assumptions

Imagine getting an email from the President of Israel inviting you to attend a gathering called Voice of the People Strategy Lab: The President's Initiative for a Worldwide Jewish Dialogue that would be the first step towards healing the rifts within the Jewish people. Who could say no? Not me!

Jun 9, 2023

A Tale of Three Menorahs

Our parashah, BeHa’alotekha, contains one of the classic symbols of Jewish religion, the menorah. The menorah is a symbol that was absorbed from the outside culture but became a primary channel of Jewish teaching and values. This development itself illuminates the Jewish way through history.

Jun 2, 2023


This week’s Dvar Torah on parsha Naso -- which contains the very well-known Birkat Cohanim or priestly blessing -- is adapted from the speech that Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar gave in acceptance of the JPRO Miami Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jun 2, 2023

JPRO Honors Rabbi Zarren-Zohar

This Thursday, JPRO Miami honored CAJE’s Executive Director Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar with the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award. Lily Serviansky, Federation’s Campaign Chair and a past President of CAJE, presented the award to Rabbi Efrat. We are sharing Lily’s excellent speech.

May 25, 2023

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

As we observe Shavuot tonight through Shabbat, G!D-willing with family and friends, I’d like to share with you what I learned at the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC) retreat that I was invited to attend last week, and how it directly relates to perceptions of Judaism and Torah in our day schools.

May 19, 2023

There Is A Place For Us

“Every person has their time, and every thing has its place.” Pirkei Avot 4:3. It isn’t just the soloist who has a time and place, but every member of the orchestral is vital to the whole. “Count the whole Israelite community by the clans of its ancestral houses, according to the number of their names” Num. 1:2.

May 12, 2023

Mutual Responsibilities

If the laws of the Jubilee year refer to the emancipation of only Hebrew servants, why does the passage proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof? Is not this liberty, in fact, referring to only a small percentage of the population?

May 5, 2023

The More Torah, The More Life

Parshat Emor teaches us about the festivals that make up the Jewish year. From the second night of Pesach, we begin counting upwards towards Shavuot where we celebrate the receiving of Torah at Mount Sinai. The ritual of counting days has become a spiritual practice where we imagine ourselves on a profound journey towards Sinai.

Apr 28, 2023

An Ancient Ritual with Modern Meaning: the "Scapegoat"

Throughout history, human beings have the tragic tendency to divide the world between "G!D" and "Azazel" or "the devil" (whatever that means to a particular person or culture). Then add to that oversimplification, the psychological need to apportion blame and fault to something / someone other than self / culture / country, and we end up with a deadly mix.

Apr 21, 2023

Freedom of Speech: a Right and a Huge Responsibility

This week’s parsha, Parashat Tazria, is paired with Parashat Metzora, because both deal with the identification and treatment of someone who contracts a condition called “tsara’at.” The translation of this is leprosy, although it is spiritual rather than biological in nature…

Apr 14, 2023

Silence in the Face of Horror

The Shoah is a part of our history that often impels us to speak out loudly against antisemitism, hate, and genocide wherever it lives. And it is also a part of our history that sometimes inspires silence as we contemplate the horrors that humankind is capable of inflicting on itself and the tragedies members of our community have endured.

Mar 31, 2023

Pesach: An Opportunity to Reflect

This Shabbat is Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath immediately preceding Pesach, our Festival celebrating Freedom and Redemption. We are preparing to gather with family, friends, and neighbors around our Seder tables. We are cleaning our homes and preparing our festival foods and celebrations. Many of us find this a season of hitbonenut / reflection as we review our lives since Pesach one year ago.