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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 11, 2015  RSS feed
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Text: T T T

Rabbis appealing to Millennials with brews, hip venues

Jewish Press

Many Jewish Millennials do not seem to be synagogue joiners, Rabbi Michael Torop says, so the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis has come up with a plan to meet them on their own turf – in brew houses and other “hip” venues in downtown St. Petersburg – to share a brew and some conversation about Judaism.

Rabbi Torop of Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg and Rabbi Danielle Upbin of Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater are co-chairs of the new Torah on Tap program and both are hopeful that it will open new lines of Jewish connectivity for singles and married couples in their 20s to 40s.

The first Torah on Tap gathering was held Sept. 10 at Meze 119 and similar events at breweries, restaurants and entertainment venues popular with young professionals will be held nearly every month at least through next April.

“We centered the program in downtown St. Pete because that is a fun place to be right now,” said Rabbi Upbin.

“We want to provide a space to gather and have a Jewish-themed conversation in a place that is convenient and lends itself to a positive, upbeat experience.”

Snacks and drinks will be available, sometimes complimentary depending on the venue.

“We want to make it easy to get together, and then if participants want to stick around and continue talking or go out to dinner, they are in a great place to branch out and continue to have fun,” Rabbi Upbin said.

Rabbi Torop said both he and Rabbi Upbin have done similar programs in the past in an effort to reach this age-group.

“Building on those two experiences, we are trying to reach those who are Jewish and interested in connecting with other Jews, but may want to do it in a location other than the buildings of our synagogues,” he said. “We hope this will provide us with a way to reach them where they are at, to strengthen their connectedness to one another and to the Jewish community.”

The Board of Rabbis, comprised of the county’s Reform and Conservative pulpit rabbis, is fully on board with the new program, Rabbi Torop said, pointing out that most of the member rabbis will be serving as presenters at these gatherings.

“There is sort of a commonality across the country that Milennials do not see affiliation with synagogues as the primary mode of expressing their way of being Jewish. They are not joiners of synagogues, so the challenge to the organized Jewish community, is how do we build the connections that will support these individuals on their individual journeys. How do we make Judaism relevant for them?” Rabbi Torop asked.

He and the Board of Rabbis hope Torah on Tap will be one of the tools that will enable the organized Jewish community to connect.

The get togethers in downtown St. Petersburg will be held on Thursdays from 5:30-7 p.m.

The upcoming schedule and the presenters:

• Nov. 11 at Bella Brava, 204 Beach Drive, N.E. with Rabbi Leah Herz of Menorah Manor;

• Dec. 10 at 3 Daughters Brewery, 222 22nd St. S., with Rabbi Torop;

• Jan. 28 at The Hangar, 540 First St. S.E. with Rabbi Daniel Treiser of Temple B’nai Israel in Clearwater;

• Feb. 11 in an outside area at the Vinoy, 501 Fifth Ave. N.E. with Rabbi Gary Klein of Temple Ahavat Shalom of Palm Harbor;

• March 10 at Meze 119, 119 Second St. N., with Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B’nai Israel of St. Petersburg;

• April 14 in an outside area at the Vinoy with Rabbi David Weizman of Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater.

In addition to the meetings downtown, for various Jewish holidays throughout the year, the rabbis will host gatherings at their synagogues, Rabbi Torop said.

So far only one synagogue event is on the calendar, set for Thursday, Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. This is a “Suds in the Sukkah” event at Congregation Beth Shalom, 1325 S. Belcher Road, Clearwater.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Rabbi Danielle Upbin at and/or Rabbi Michael Torop at

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