Boca Raton boasts one of the fastest-growing congregations in the U.S. In an area of burgeoning communities, Modern-Orthodox Torah Ohr is not a typical family synagogue but a congregation of 900 members ranging in age from 60 to 90. Located in the beautifully landscaped enclave of Boca Century Village West, Torah Ohr welcomed nearly 150 new members last year.
“We are a huge welcoming community with people from all over the United States and elsewhere, coming together to pray, learn, and socialize,” said Josh Samborn, president of Torah Ohr.
This past season, from late November to early April, full-time residents, snowbirds (seasonal residents), and snowflakes (residents who travel back and forth from their northern homes) enjoyed up to five Shabbat morning minyanim. The shul building buzzes with learning activities that include daily daf yomi, chumash, Mishna Berurah, and classes on such topics as the parshah of the week, hilchot Shabbat, and ethics in the Bible. There are also various women’s educational programs.
Guest speakers visit frequently to share their knowledge and experiences while social activities fill the calendar. Sisterhood events include hat shows, boutiques, a pushka party, annual luncheon and fashion show, and catered seudot for Chanukah, Purim, and other occasions. The men’s club is known for its fascinating book review and lecture evenings and the social action committee has an active agenda. Bikur Cholim and a hospital volunteer group are essential for helping the sick.
This past winter was notable for the dedication of two sifrei Torah at Torah Ohr. One was loaned by Pinny and Ann Davidman. The other, presented by Jerry and Shelly Abramson, was inspired by a trip to Lithuania in 2012. Jerry, the son of Holocaust survivors, and his wife were deeply moved on witnessing the remnants of centuries of what had been a thriving Jewish life. The Abramsons commissioned a Torah to honor the six million who died in the Holocaust as well as his mother Miriam and their children.
The Sefer Torah, written by sofer Rabbi Sholom Michalshvilli of Jerusalem, weighs only about 12 pounds. Mr. Abramson says this was intended to make it easier for older congregants to be able to lift the scroll and continue to participate fully in davening.
With all the excitement comes a challenge: the shul is running out of room for all its activities. After exploring various options, shul president Josh Samborn announced, “To accommodate our growing community, we have design committees working with architects and planners on an important expansion plan to the kehilla.”
The congregation is located at 19146 Lyons Road in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.torahohrboca.org or call (561) 479-4049.Helen Garfinkel