Or Ahavah welcomes you... x

Or Ahavah is a welcoming community dedicated to personal transformation and healing the world through Jewish practice.

Upcoming Services and Events

  • Freedom by Cantor Shoshana Brown

    Martin Luther King Jr.’s words put to the melody from the song Freedom by Cantor Shoshana Brown.

  • New Kabbalah Class, Tree of Life – Registration

    Mystic Torah Jewish Education for Adults
    Kabbalistic Tree of Life: What is it and how can we use it for our growth and for making our world a better place?

    Registration Form Tree of Life

    Sundays at 10 a.m., 11/06/16, 12/4, 1/22, 2/19, 3/12, 4/16 and party is 5/7

    Information about the Class:

    • The class meets one time per month for six months from 10 a.m.– noon.
    • Each class includes spiritual exercises such as chant and meditation to integrate what we learn.
    • Long-distance learning available for those who live too far to attend the monthly meeting.
    • Group class schedule will be decided by the participants at the first class.
    • Celebration and certificates of completion will be offered at the end of the program.
    • Cost of this class is $180.00 for members of Or Ahavah and $198.00 for non-members.
    • As with our retreats and other gatherings, the difference between member and non-member fees can be applied to our reasonable dues should you decide to join the congregation.
    • Payment by check must accompany your registration form.
    • Students may apply for payments plans or for financial aid (see separate form) with your registration form.
    • Classes are Recorded and put in a password protected area on our website.

    Mail this completed registration form with your check made payable to Or Ahavah to: Barbara Freedland 6629 Thoroughbred Loop Odessa, Fl 33556 or scan the form and email to d.shenefelt@att.net and mail your check to the above address). Or Ahavah is a 501 (c)3 organiztion and your class fee is tax deductible to the greatest extent allowed by law.

  • Torah Study and Vege/Dairy/Fish pot luck, 12/17/16, 10:30 am

    Torah Study and Vege/Dairy/Fish pot luck, 12/17/16, 10:30 am, rsvp to d.shenefelt@att.net

    Address will be given upon registration.

    Includes abbreviated service and music from heaven!

  • The Alternative YOM KIPPUR… a spiritual RETREAT 2016

    Join Congregation Or Ahavah for a day of reflection and transfor- mation at a beautiful retreat center on the Hillsborough River.
    Experience the true meaning of the holiest of days – a time to re- turn to your authentic self, a time for second chances….


    The Franciscan Center
    3010 N. Perry Ave.
    Tampa, Florida 33603-5345


    When: Tuesday, October 11 and Wednesday October 12, 2016



    • 4:00 pm – Preparatory Meditation
    • 5:00 pm – Dinner (fish/vegetarian meal)
    • 6:00 pm – Kol Nidre and Evening Services


    • 8:30 – Qi-gong, Morning Yoga or Meditation
    • 9:30 – Services throughout day with rest periods
    • 6:40 – Havdallah followed by full Break the Fast Meal


    Yom Kippur observance with spiritual integration

    • Kol Nidre and Experiential Services
    • Meditation and Prayer
    • Drumming and Chanting
    • Holiday Meal prior to Services and Full Break—Fast



    Registration and fees attached


    You are Welcome-No Experience Required

    Creative Rosh HaShanah Services
    Celebrate the gift of a new beginning!
    Sunday, 10/02/16 6:00 p. m.

    • Dinner and Blessing Seder

    Monday, 10/03/16 10:30 p.m.

    • Morning Services followed by
    • Vegetarian/Dairy pot luck lunch, Greek Salad provided,
    • Addresses provided upon registration

    Pricing Information can be found by downloading the file below.
    For further information, contact Rabbi Debrah Shenefelt at 813.968.7850 or orahavah.org

    Yom Kippur Retreat and Registration final 2016

  • Peace Project – Orlando…

    Everyone Shalom!
    Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 2.04.19 PMOr Ahavah joins with the LGBTQ community, the residents of Orlando, and others across the globe in horror and outrage for senseless and vicious acts of murder that occurred in the early morning hours on June 12th. We also join them in prayers for strength and healing for those directly affected, for all of us who grieve, and for all who yearn for a better world where acceptance and love overshadow hate, intolerance and self-righteousness.

    The murders occurred on Shavuot, the time of joy for the Jewish people who commemorate receiving Torah, especially, the Ten Sayings. Though the rabbis give many reasons for why the mixed multitude standing at Sinai were given Torah, the overarching one is that Torah is the primary way of civilizing us humans who have all kinds of instincts and capacities. The Sixth Saying exhorts: Do Not Murder, but here we were in the wee hours of the morning, as some Jews were up studying to make a tikkun, a fixing for the world, a mass murder overtook people because of their life style choices.

    None of us are powerless to do something about hate-based violence and hatred veiled behind religious and social values. There are many avenues to pursue: political, charitable, social and spiritual. Hate-based mass murder because of race, religion and sexual orientation is increasing throughout our world! We cannot let ourselves become indifferent and just assume that this is a fact of life! “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes!

    Though there is much work to be done, not one of us is powerless! As our sages teach in Mishnah Avot: You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it .

    Each year Or Ahavah has a Tzedakah Project for a community organization that may be located anywhere in the world. This year we are raising money for a Jewish organization that actively promotes peace. Donors may have input into the selection, which will be made by board members in August. Funds will be raised through February 2017. A tzedakah box will be available at every Or Ahavah gathering. 100% of donations will go for the selected Jewish peace project.

    If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation but do not ordinarily attend Or Ahavah events and services, you can send a check, made payable to Or Ahavah, 15919 Nottinghill Drive, Lutz, FL 33548. You may also leave a message on our website at orahavah.org about which Jewish based peace project you would like to see selected.

    L’Shalom, With peace,

    Rabbi Debrah Shenefelt

    Barry Shalinsky, Board President

    Dr. Robert Norman

Mitzvah & Meaning from Rabbi Deb

  • A Remebrance of Reb Zalman

    Reb Zalman, z”l

    Reb ZalmanRabbi Zalman Schechter-Shalomi, z”l, died last week and, for me, his departure brought an end to an era of great rabbis who truly care about the people.  This is not to say that there are no longer any great rabbis who care.  Reb Zalman cared for people in ways that seem unique to the rabbis of his generation who came to the United States carrying with them the lights of a Euopean Yeshivah and Chassidic background.

    Reb Zalman was not my primary rebbe.  His colleague Rabbi Brod, z”l, whom we all called “Rabbi,” was my rebbe, my friend, the one who subtly taught me how to reconcile my soul to something better, and the one who taught me the heart of a rebbe.  He taught that a rabbi should be driven by the need to find flexibility to meet a person’s needs if traditional avenues are, for whatever reason, closed.  Reb Shlomo, another colleague and friend of Reb Zalman’s, had boundaries so thin that he was able to help a stranger as if his life depended on it.  These are the three rabbis who influence me beyond measure.

    Reb Zalman made openings in the Jewish world where spiritually hungry travellers could rest and maybe even take up residence.  The most valuable lesson that I learned from Reb Zalman was a different expression of something precious that I learned from Rabbi Brod.  Reb Zalman taught about retrofitting changes that we make as rabbis and spiritual leaders to traditions and Jewish laws that have developed over thousands of years.


  • Jewish Megatrends by Rabbi Sidney Schwarz

    Shalom all:
    One of my colleagues, Rabbi Daniel Siegel, wrote a review of Jewish Megatrends by Rabbi Sidney Schwarz that I found insightful and touching.  It is a tribute to the unsung heroes throughout the Jewish world.  Some of these invisible heroes have devoted their lives to making positive changes in Jewish culture and practice so that more Jews can come back to their religious or cultural home of origin and feel welcome and nourished.
    I hope you enjoy the essay as much as I do.  You can find it at http://rabbidanielsiegel.com/the-invisibles-reflections-on-jewish-megatrends/
    With blessings for a healthy and fulfilling New Year,
    Rabbi Deb

  • Women of Distinction Program

    Last Thursday, on December 5, 2013, Or Ahavah was proud to hear Dr. Linda Wexler’s name called as our honoree during the Women of Distinction program.  Several women from a variety of Jewish organizations were honored for the work that they have generously given to the Jewish community and beyond.  It’s a fabulous event.  It is inclusive of the mitzvah mavens so well known in the Tampa Jewish community and other mitzvah mavens who we are hearing about for the first time.

    Two pictures of Linda are posted on the website, one with Rabbi Deb and the other with her husband Colby.  Based on a write-up submitted by Or Ahavah, here is what was written in the program and spoken about Linda as she was called up to be honored: (more…)

  • Spa Day-Making it Jewish – Part 1.

    Yum!A couple of Sundays ago, Or Ahavah indulged in Spa and Schmooze Day.  Our very own Dr. Phil  talked about skin care and answed our many questions.  Two masseuses and a facialist offered spa treatments that were awesome and reasonably priced.  As we were waiting our turn on the spa table and chair, many of us gathered around a table filled with healthy but tasty food and drink offerings.  “What makes this Jewish,” I asked, and someone quipped “eating good food!”  I agree that enjoying and sharing Jewish-style food with others is a way of experiencing Jewish identity, but I wanted something more (more…)

  • Chanukah Gathering

    Our Chanukah gathering at Siesta Key Beach was fabulous!  Somebody remarked that it felt like she and her husband were with family.  I cannot think of better feedback to share than that.
    Here are a few pics from the party.