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

Upcoming Services and Events

  • Or Ahavah Upcoming Gatherings

    Saturday, March 19, 4pm
    Torah study and meditation

    Sunday, April 3, 4:30pm
    meditation and check-in let by Naraiyah.
    This gathering is for Or Ahavah members only.

    Friday, April 15, 7:15pm
    First night Passover seder.
    This gathering is free for members.
    We ask for a minimum donation of $18 from our friends who are not members.

    Saturday, June 4 at 7:30pm
    Tikkun Leil Shavuot

    To RSVP or for more information, please contact us at orahavahtampa@gmail.com

  • Help us greet the secular New Year – Mystical Tu B’shvat Seder on January 16, 2022 at 6pm

    Everyone Shalom!
    We have two gatherings in January to help us greet the secular New Year:

    “Check-In” led by Naraiyah on January 2, 2022 at 4 pm

    Mystical Tu B’shvat Seder on January 16, 2022 at 6pm

    There is a flyer attached that includes all the info you will need to participate in our joyous seder.  Be sure to RSVP to orahavahtampa@gmail.com (just press the reply button) and we will send the zoom link and seder booklet to you on Sunday morning of the day of the seder.  Contact me with any questions.

    Enjoy the remainder of the year!

    Loving Blessings in ways you need,
    Rabbi Deb

    Tu Bshvat info 2022

    Mystical-Tu-B'shvat-Seder

  • Extend Your Light With your helping angels!

    Extend Your Light With your helping angels!
    Presented by:
    Marsha Shulman, MA ADTP !

    Sunday, 12.12.21 rom 5:30-7:00 p.m.
    Suggested donation $36 or donate what you can. This gathering is a fundraiser for Or Ahavah. All donations are tax deductible.
    Please RSVP to OrAhavahtampa@gmail.com
    Donations can be made on our website at orahavah.org or by check made payable to Or Ahavah and mailed to 15919 Nottinghill Dr Lutz 33548

    DOWNLOAD FLYER angels by Marsha

    Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 7.59.04 PM

  • Celebrating the Light Sunday, Dec. 13th 4pm – RSVP by Dec 10th

    Please email a photograph you have taken of a place in nature or in any place that you sense is sacred for you-a place where you sense the Presence of Holy Light. Send the photo by Thursday, Dec.10th to Orahavahtampa@gmail.com . Photos will be displayed on Zoom. Each person will have an opportunity to tell their story of how or why they sense spiritual light within the surroundings in the photo.
    This is a fundraiser! 100% of your donation will go to Feeding Tampa Bay. Donate online at orahavah.org (Scroll to the bottom of the page)

    Screen-Shot-2020-12-07-at-5.05.17-PM

  • Join Or Ahavah for a special presentation by Anael Atara Sunday, October 18th from 4-5 p.m.

    Anael-Atara
    The gathering will include a fashion show of her one of a kind tefillinesque* accoutrements and an explanation of her inspiration and process. She will also share her Inspired 10 Commandments of Sacred Nature Art in addition to some of her chants. Anael has been fashioning ceremonial prayer garb and shamanistic creations for over two decades.

    Anael is wearing two of her creations in the picture and makes feminine tefillin for both head and hand. In addition, she makes energetically powerful and beautiful necklaces and Chuppot,

    * Tefillinesque refers to creations of Tefillin that are for women and retrofit with Jewish tradition.

    Donations are appreciated — suggested amount $18
    For more information and to RSVP by 10.16.20, email Orahavahtampa@gmail.com
    To donate by Paypal or Credit Card, contact Phil at P.shenefelt@att.net
    or mail your check made payable to Or Ahavah ◘ 15919 Nottinghill ◘ Drive Lutz, Fl 33548

Mitzvah & Meaning from Rabbi Deb

  • We need Passover so very much this year.

    passoverWe need Passover so very much this year. It is one of three holidays on which we celebrate the miracles that G!D did and does on our behalf. Acts of grace and love come straight from the heart of All reality for us and our world. We need acts of Divine grace in our world of gut-wrenching war and parallel universes that do not intersect because they are filled with “alternate realities.”

    Why were the enslaved redeemed? Why did grace descend in Nissan? Until then, we were so lost in our enslavement that we could not even speak. But! We could do one true thing. We could groan.

    Ex. 6:5 And I have also heard the groaning of the people of Israel, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

    In Jewish mystical circles, this is called awakening from below. The truth of our groans, unexplained and undefined, pierced the heavens and Y H V H “heard” them.

    G!D responded with promises of redemption from slavery of the narrow spaces, a fabulous sacred story that we read at the beginning of Passover: This is called awakening from above:

    Ex. 6:6. Therefore say to the people of Israel, I am Y H V H, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you from their slavery, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments;

    ו לָכֵן אֱמֹר לִבְנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל אֲנִי יְהוָֹה וְהוֹצֵאתִי אֶתְכֶם מִתַּחַת סִבְלֹת מִצְרַיִם וְהִצַּלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם מֵעֲבֹדָתָם וְגָאַלְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בִּזְרוֹעַ נְטוּיָה וּבִשְׁפָטִים גְּדֹלִי

    I share the feelings of frustration and powerlessness that so many of us have in light of the seemingly intractable problems we face as people of the world. But, remember, we also are going through a propitious time for miracles, and the Haggadah teaches us how to coax heaven, so to speak.

    One of the meanings of Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover, is speaking (sach) mouth (pe). Tell the story of our redemption, then and now. Speak one true thing to Being; one true request for redemption from the narrow places of Mitzrayim. One true groan, cry, or elaborated request opens our hearts so that we can enter into the auspicious time of Passover with some faith and trust. One true tear drop from the depths of whatever reality is confining each of us can be life-changing in our inner worlds and in the world that appears outside of us.

    Pray for peace. Pray for redemption for those who others are trying to rob of their freedom. Pray for redemption from our own enslavement to the task-masters of anything that drives us to rely on powers beyond our sense of True self.

    I wish each of you a meaningful and transformational Pesach!

    Rabbi Devorah Chanah Talyah (Rabbi Deb)

  • The Seder Plate for Passover

    seder-plate

    The Passover Seder Plates above prove the Jewish maxim once again; Two rabbis, three opinions!

    For our seder plate, I substitute lamb’s wool for the shank bone and add other things to my plate. Historically, I have added an orange to represent women and LGBTQ folks who struggled (and still struggle in some quarters) for acceptance and leadership within organized religion, and an olive as a prayer for peace in the middle east. This year I am adding a Ukrainian Flag toothpick. Add what is meaningful to you!

    Please use chocolate and coffee that you are certain is not sourced through child or any other kind of slavery. You can find lists of companies that use and do not use slave labor on google. If it is more expensive, eat and drink less. Fish is more difficult to track.

    Loving Blessings for a Beautiful Passover Season,

    Rabbi Devorah Chanah Talyah (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.

    He gave over his analyses of Paradgm Shift through the centuries to anyone who would listen or read.  This enabled me to see that Judaism has been changeable and has to have flexibility if it is to respond to the changing needs of different people at various times in history.  It also gave me a leg to stand on when confronted by unsympathetic others about “what is Jewish.”

    I remember reading an article about Reb Zalman that questioned whether he was a tzaddik or a renegade.  I suspect that Reb Zalman might have answered that he was neither, but that he was somewhere in-between.  It was not the only time that Reb Zalman’s teachings or positions raised an eyebrow or a hackle in the Jewish world.  At the last Ohalah he spoke to the group about supporting each other as we develop the newer paths identified by many as Jewish Renewal.  He  commented on how lucky he thought we were to have one another.

    It reminded me of Rabbi Brod who had no rebbe after his father who also was a rabbi died.  Rabbi Brod used to say that G-d was his rabbi and his wife Freda would wryly quip that the relationship was very personal.  I imagine that it might have been the same for Reb Zalman.  His courage, his faith, his willingness to loom large in face of criticism and to constrict his presence at times when his students needed to grow all inspire and strengthen me to do work to which I feel called.

    Reb Zalman, the founder of Jewish Renewal, made it possible for me to become a rabbi in a number of ways.  The ALEPH rabbinic program allowed me to keep my home base in Tampa with my family and to study long-distance.  He cared about spiritually nourishing his students, not just by feeding us but by showing us how to mine the rich soil of Jewish and other mystical traditions.

    He was a prolific writer and I remain a student of his works.  On the day that he drew his last breath I had just received one of his books entitled Fragments of a Future Scroll, Hassidism for the Aquarian Age.   Every time I look at the book’s title, I feel supported in my non-traditional, experiential and experimental work, and feel urged, with mindfulness of so many teachings from Jewish tradition, to study and forge ahead.

    I did have a few personal encounters with Reb Zalman.  My favorite memory was probably the least eventful.  As he passed me at an Ohalah gathering, he looked at me and said “G!d bless you!”

    Reb Zalman was a rebbe of blessing, whether he uttered it, manifested it through his teachings, or gave it through his generous spirit toward the people.  Reb Zalman involved heaven in his works and taught us to return something with holiness.  During the past few months I noticed that he would sign off on his posts by writing something like:   blessings in the ways that you need them,” or blessings in the ways that will do you the most good.  How awesomely incisive is that!

    Reb Zalman’s blessings through his teachings, his friendships and his accomplishments persist with us today.  May his memory and his works always be a blessing in the ways that each one of us needs.

    L’shalom for now,
    Rabbi Deb    

  • 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:
    “Linda has been an active supporter of Or Ahavah for more than seven years.  She was a primary care physician in Dunedin from 1979-2008, and a staff physician at the VA from 2008-2012 prior to her retirement.  Linda’s background as a physician makes her a healing presence at Or Ahavah who embodies the teachings and ethics of Judaism.  Since 1996, she has provided educational seminars on end of life issues for local and international groups including the Association of Death Educators and Bereavement Counselors, Women in Thanatology, and Hospice.  Linda was also involved with the Jewish Film Festival from 2006-2009.  Linda is married to Colby Munger.  She and her late husband, Mel Wexler, have three children and six grandchildren.”