Orlando, Florida, conjures images of happiness and pleasure, fantasy at its finest. However, true happiness is now blossoming in Orlando.
Founded five years ago, Orlando Torah Academy (OTA), a member of Torah Umesorah’s network of day schools, has quickly grown and developed into the destination for many of Orlando’s Jewish children. Providing a true Torah education, OTA is impacting the students, their families and the community.
Orlando is transforming into a flourishing makom Torah.
In 2010, local community members whose children were in public school and were in desperate need of a Jewish day school contacted Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim. Rabbi Yehuda Schepansky and Rabbi Avraham Wachsman moved to Orlando with their families to start Orlando Torah Academy and lay the foundation for a Torah community.
Beginning with 12 children, OTA has grown to almost 60 students this year, with a bright future for continued growth ahead.
Students at OTA come from homes spanning the spectrum of Jewish backgrounds and traditions. From a young age, the children are imbued with the beauty of the Torah and its mitzvos. The impact on the students and their families is immeasurable.
A mother recently related how her four-year-old son led the Friday night Shabbos meal, making the brachah on his challah roll that he made in school. She looked on, crying tears of joy. She thanked the rabbis and said, “Thank you so much for bringing Hashem into my life.” Veheishiv lev avos al bonim.
Since the school’s founding, a shul has been created along with a number of outreach organizations, providing minyonim and Torah learning for the growing community. A local vaad harabbonim has been formed and an eruv is in the process of being constructed around the community.
Orlando Torah Academy is now facing a major challenge threatening the school and community. OTA is a tenant in its school building and the retiring owner is selling the building. With another cash offer on the table, Orlando Torah Academy has been given until March 15th to raise $1.8 million to purchase the building. This is a challenge beyond the capabilities of Orlando’s small Jewish community. The responsibility now rests on the shoulders of all of Klal Yisroel. These are Hashem’s children, just like the children of New York, New Jersey, Chicago or Yerushalayim. We can’t turn away and say it’s not our town. We must answer the call today.
For more information and to make a difference in the lives of so many, contact Rabbi Avraham Wachsman at 407.864.3375.