Ten months ago, in August, Queens said goodbye to eight kollel yungeleit from Chofetz Chaim as they embarked on a mission to build a Torah community, along with strengthening the Jewish core of the many unaffiliated Jews in Tampa. They started Tampa Torah Academy and Tampa Kollel, collectively known as Tampa Torah Center, to bring more Torah infrastructure to Tampa.

With much siyata diShmaya, they have seen success in their mission. Tampa Torah Academy had grades nursery through sixth grade, with enrollment for next year looking to grow by 50 percent. Students and teachers alike have commented on how a first-year school ran like an established school of many years. Rabbi Wohlfarth commented, “It was amazing to be a rebbi to these children as they learn more about what it means to be Jewish and begin to follow halachah.”

Along with the school, The Tampa Kollel has lit a fire under the Jewish Tampa community with their programming and learning opportunities. The kollel members learn morning seder together, as any Lakewood-style community kollel would. In the afternoon and evening, they do one-on-one learning and then their famous night seder where they serve hot food to all who attend. Some other programs they run are JSU for High Schoolers, with almost 200 students coming to Jewish Clubs. Additionally, the Oorah Chillzone is a highlight for students from all over Tampa to interact with the kollel rabbis and have fun in a Torahdik environment. Another popular program is the weekly Sunday Lox-and-Learn with an engaging halachic and hashkafic topic presented every week to be learned and debated.

With the school and the kollel, TTC has quickly become part of the fabric of the Jewish Tampa community. Rabbi Clyde, son-in-law of our very own Rabbi Hayim Schwartz, serves as the local mohel and has become part of the chevrah kadisha, as well, to improve the quality of their service. TTC has truly become a beacon of Torah and Yiddishkeit in a Jewish community of over 70,000 Jews, many unaffiliated.

Rabbi Rubenstein shares that he often gets phone calls from people who hear about the school and the kollel, and who inquire about moving and joining the community. A South Florida resident who came to visit shared how seeing the kollel and the Torah energy was a breath of fresh air not found in the large community in which he lives.

Overall, Tampa Torah Center has quickly helped the Tampa Jewish community grow and discover the treasure of Torah. With one year in the books, they look forward to continuing to grow and take their place among the emerging Torah communities of today. They will be having a Charidy campaign from Sunday, June 18, to June 19 to raise $650,000. To participate, please visit Charidy.com/ttc.