Imagine the opportunity to build a whole new Orthodox Jewish community with the infrastructure of a kollel, minyanim, and a Torah day school. Seven young families from Queens are heading to Tampa to do just that.
One Chofetz Chaim graduate who is going shared, “We’ve been waiting through our many years in yeshivah, honing our skills, and preparing to do outreach. We’re so excited to be part of building something new and to be able to bring a connection to Hashem and to Torah to people who never experienced living with Hashem and bitachon.”
Tampa has over 70,000 Jews and close to 8,000 Jewish school age children. Parents reached out to Rabbi Bentzion Chait, director of NTI at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, asking for an Orthodox Jewish school. The need is there. Tampa is a business hub, and many businesspeople travel there and need a minyan and to feel a connection to a Jewish community when they are in Tampa.
Rabbi Yirmiyahu Rubenstein and Rabbi Ariel Wohlfarth, Co-Deans of Tampa Torah Academy, shared their passion about starting this new school. The model of building a new Jewish community with the approach of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim exists in Boca Raton, Orlando, Las Vegas, and other communities. The school will accommodate children from frum homes and children who come from families with little background in Yiddishkeit. Small classes will allow the teachers to individualize. The school will be from Nursery through the sixth grade, and plans to eventually go up to eighth grade.
Rabbi Yosef Stulberger, Rosh Kollel, shared his fiery passion. There will be lunch-and-learn and night seder. There will be Thursday night learning and cholent. Sunday morning will be later davening with a shiur and lox-and-learn. The plan is to bring the powerful influence of Torah learning to a community with outreach programs, classes that reach every Jew, and tap into that pintele Yid. The focus is on strengthening everyone’s Jewish identity. The night seder will be for everyone, with halachah, Gemara, and topics like relationship classes.
The goal is to cater to Jews of all backgrounds and all ages. “Our mission,” Rabbi Stulberger shared, “is to bring the fire of Torah to Tampa and spread the fire with classes, chavrusos, and programs.”
There is a ripple effect taking place, with Olami sending a young family to do campus outreach at the University of South Florida.
Tampa has many attractions. It means starting an affordable community with lower house prices, with tuition vouchers, in a beautiful area surrounded by palm trees, and endless summer and sunshine. There will be minyanim and a strong morning seder. The plan is to bring the infrastructure of a frum community to Tampa.
Rabbi Rubenstein pointed out that “Queens is helping to launch Tampa.” Currently there is a Chabad-Young Israel minyan, but the community is scattered and there is no Orthodox Jewish day school.
Rabbi Rubenstein concluded, “Everybody wants to come to Tampa.”
One young wife who is going shared, “The vision is to build a beautiful frum community. We want to take what we have in Queens and bring it to Florida. It will be a place where Jews of all backgrounds come closer to Hashem and all Jews will feel welcome. She shared a quote that the tallest oak in the forest was once a tiny acorn.
By Susie Garber