Rabbi Nachum Shifren is a southern California native. A disciplined athlete, competitive swimmer, runner and triathlete, he served for 10 years as a Los Angeles County lifeguard and received a commendation from the Mayor for lifesaving water rescue.
At the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War he became a kibbutz volunteer, and in 1977 immigrated to Israel. Shifren served in the Israeli Defence Forces and received a degree in Combat Fitness Training at the prestigious Machon Wingate Institute for Sports in Netanya, Israel.
Shifren received a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Barbara in Spanish and German Literature. He continued graduate studies in West Germany at the University of Goettingen. Rabbi Shifren is a language teacher and is fluent in Spanish, German, Hebrew and Yiddish.
Rabbi Shifren attended Toras Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem and Yeshivat Tomchei Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, where he received his rabbinical ordination in 1990.
He has been featured in People magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Jerusalem Post, GQ magazine, The Jewish Press, Surfer magazine, The Jerusalem Report, as well as Le Figaro, The Manchester Guardian, Suddeutsche Zeitung, and other international media. He appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, CNN, Phil Donohue, NPR radio, JTN, Fox TV, Deutshe Welle TV, Dutch, Spanish and Canadian National TV, KNZ Radio, KBRT, and KFI Los Angeles. He founded Jewish Surfers International and the Surf and Soul newsletter. A movie based on Surfing Rabbi is currently in development.
Foreword to Surfing Rabbi
by Dennis Prager
"I have never surfed. I am not a rabbi and I am not a Chassidic Jew. So why am I writing a foreword to Surfing Rabbi? Because Rabbi Nachum Shifren is doing wonderful work on behalf of Judaism and all God-based religion. For too long religious life has been identified with asceticism, and Rabbi Shifren has decided to help undo that unfortunate association. The very fact that “surfing rabbi” strikes virtually all of us as almost an oxymoron shows how necessary such a rabbi is. Jews in particular identify religious Judaism with a lack of joy and with a retreat from worldly pursuits. This lack of identification of religious Judaism with the world and with earthly pleasure has been, unfortunately, often legitimate. Orthodox Judaism is a law-filled religion governing almost all of one’s behaviors. Add to that the amount of suffering in Jewish history and you have a recipe for a rather somber religious life. Then in the eighteenth century, along came Chassidism with an emphasis on “worshiping God through joy/happiness.” The most noted practitioners of this joyful Judaism are the Chassidim known as Chabad. Rabbi Nachum Shifren is a Chabad chassid who exemplifies this joy-filled Judaism. His vehicle is love of the oceans and surfing. Accomplished surfer and devout Jew that he is, Rabbi Shifren touches people who would most probably never encounter a rabbi, let alone an Orthodox one. By exuding a love of life and joy in the natural world as God’s creation, the Surfing Rabbi becomes a living ode to God the Creator. This is his story. It is a good and inspiring one."
Invite Rabbi Shifren to speak at your next event!"Rabbi Shifren's message resonates with audiences all over the world. His talks motivate and inspire, bringing laughter and tears through his incredible journey on the search for the perfect wave, ultimately finding his place in the cosmos and his long-lost soul...."
"A former candidate for US Senate, world traveler (he speaks 5 languages), big-wave surfer, Malibu lifeguard, triathlete, and 25-year vet of LA's toughest inner city schools, army fitness trainer, Rabbi Shifren's tales are now legend."
"Hear the words of a true renaissance man, whose genre flows from diet and nutrition, Beethoven, Goethe, ancient kabbala, physical and spiritual well-being, building positive self-esteem in ourselves, our children, and how to survive in our hectic life-styles."
"If we had 10 more teachers like Rabbi Shifren, we could change America tomorrow!"
Rev. Jesse Lee Petersen