Shifren’s circuitous journey evolves into a spiritual quest.
Growing up under the spell of surfdom’s coveted mecca–Malibu Beach–Norm “Shifty” Shifren risks missing his own bar mitzvah to take his first shaky ride at the fabled surf spot. Benignly apathetic about his Jewishness, Shifren pursues his dream of becoming a big-wave surfer, lifeguard and triathlete.
Shifren’s circuitous journey evolves into a spiritual quest that takes him from the pristine waves of Hawaii and Mexico, to intermarriage in Germany, a soldiers’s duty in Israel, and finally, to a small shtetl where he learns the mysteries of the Jewish ancients.
His true-life saga is one of a new-found Jewish consciousness and eye-opening self-revelation. Shifren’s life comes full circle as he finds G-d not in the synagogue, but in the majesty of Jewish mysticism and the vast power of the ocean.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
"Rabbi Nachum Shifren's storytelling grabbed me. The Rabbi is the real deal. He has walked the talk. He has known and been close to extraordinary people in the surfing world.. He has experienced many extreme situations in the ocean and we are fortunate that he has survived and taken the time to put them on paper for us to read and enjoy. To top it off, he has a very descriptive and entertaining way of telling the tale. Mahalo Rabbi!. Good work! Tell us more!!"
~ Felipe Pomar, National Peruvian Champion
1st place Duke Kahanamoku contest (Sunset Beach)
"I have never surfed. I am not a rabbi. And I am not a chassidic Jew. So why am I writing a forward to 'Surfing Rabbi?' Rabbi Nachum Shifren's vehicle is ....love for the ocean and surfing, touching 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, his story becomes a living ode to the Creator. His story is a good and inspiring one!"
~ Dennis Prager
Nationally syndicated talk-show host, Author, and Lecturer
"A totally absorbing ride into the soul of a unique surfer. A must read!"
~ Shaun Tomson
Former Surfing World Champion
"Gentiles, Jews and secular beach rats of all stripe will find adventure here."
~ Scott Hulet
Editor, The Surfer's Journal
"In articulating with such sincerity the twin passions that have illuminated his path, Rabbi Nachum Shifren has produced more than just an entertaining chronicle of the surfing life, but rather a poignant document of faith, asserting with an engaging earnestness that spiritual fulfillment awaits the truly devoted…both on and off a surfboard."
- Sam George
Former editor SURFER Magazine
"Rabbi Shifren has once again shown us the heart and soul of our cherished sport!"
~ Kathy Kohner
The real-life "Gidget"
"I read your book slowly, savoring every word. Mex, Centro, Peta- you nailed the vibe!"
~ Kevin McClusky
"You have portrayed a wide spectrum of people-not just surfers, but legends who are watermen/women. This is a historical gem! You are a laureate and your work merits being a permanent part of surfing heritage. A warm aloha."
~ Gary Stellern
Past President of Malibu Surfing Association
"Your tales of Mexico are great, especially for those of us who have ventured south. Your reflections of Tom Zahn are the stuff of legend- well done!"
~ Jim Traynor
Malibu surfer for over 50 years
"Rabbi Shifren is at his core a surfer. "Surfers...Who Don't Surf" recalls that being a surfer has nothing to do with simply riding waves. Shifren gives us a glimpse of what being a surfer actually is!"
~ Dr. Bill Rosenblatt
Rincon, Puerto Rico
"Rabbi Shifren's search for the perfect wave turns into the ultimate journey, a search for one's soul. His thoughts embrace the sea, the earth....his life is about riding the energy of the universe."
~ Ira Oper
Oper Productions, Surf Film Producer and Cinematographer
"It is so easy to let the little aches and pains, crowds, and bygone memories of perfect waves give you a reason not to surf- but the ocean is the source of my life and I hope to keep going till I die! How fortunate are you to have known Tom Zahn, whose commitment to fitness is an inspiration to us all."
~ Mike Takahashi
70, Sunset Beach, Hawaii
"I have known Rabbi Shifren for 50 years as a lifeguard and dedicated Malibu surfer. After his mentor Tommy Zahn took him under his wing, he was in good hands and the ocean was his! Love and Aloha"
~ Mike (Muzzy) Marcelino
"...masterful and engaging...an inspiration to Jew and non-Jew alike...a great book, with universal appeal!"
~ Rabbi Moshe Wisnefsky
Co-founder, Ascent Institute, and Editor, Gal Enai Publications
"Like hunters across an open land, we hunted blue mountains across distant lands and shores. We had beautiful women, and the women had beautiful men. Then slowly, we became older, got jobs, raised families, some lasted longer than others....But time, age, and injury outlasted most! You talk about the old days and the waves- it's all well done!"
~ Skip Engblom
Surfer since 1960
"Thank you for the precious opportunity to read this work. The charm and fluency kept me popping along. High entertainment and lots of humor!"
~ Stanley Stanert
"This transformative piece held me spellbound. After seeing herein words of Kabbalah, I realized this book's capricious author was cooking up a plan to share some of this esoteric wisdom with readers. Mesmerizing sacred gems, whimsical levity, and iconoclastic critique of mainstream society- all typical of radical remarks Nachum is known for. The helter-skelter lawlessness of Mexico is meticulously exact. Reading this I can taste the saltwater air, spicy frijoles, and my fingertips are singed from the still hot torts! This teacher explains potential "devekut" or cleaving: converting the physical energy to the spiritual-while floating in the surf. The precious cast of characters in "Surfers...Who Don't Surf" are the figures of legends. This literary treasure is evidence that there is more to extract out of life and an invitation to define where more internal fire can go!"
~ Amanda Wiedeman
Artist, spiritual world traveler, British Columbia
Join The Ride
My journey takes me all over. Follow along and see what's happening.