The west coast of Florida is known for beautiful sunsets, clear water, and warmer water in the Gulf of Mexico. Tampa is attracting financial and tech companies like Chase Bank, so the jobs are already there. Located about three hours west from South Florida and about an 90 minutes from Orlando. But that is all about to change. Bridghline has announced plans to connect the Miami to Tampa with high-speed rail service by 2028. Rail service is already near completion to Orlando, Florida, expected to start service in early 2023.
All of the ingredients are in place for the community to grow. In the past the Jewish community had been growing slowly and steadily, mostly non-religious or non-affiliated, but that is changing with higher house prices in South Florida and Orlando, Tampa, while not cheap, is more affordable right now. There are three Jewish schools in Tampa the Hillel Academy is the largest Jewish Day School in the region, serving Jews of all affiliations, from just cultural to Orthodox, Hebrew Academy affiliated with Chabad, and the latest Tampa Torah Academy serving the orthodox community. There are also preschools located at the Chabad, Torah Academy, Hillel, and the JCC south campus. Tampa has Chabad five Centers/Synagogues, a Young Israel, two Conservative Synagogues Congregation Kol Ami and Congregation Mekor Shalom, the Reform Congregation Schaarai Zedek, serving 1,200 families in the Tampa Bay area and Congregation Beth Am.
Restaurants and takeout include Milk N' Honey has pizza takeout, pre-ordering is required, Grill Express offers a Mediterranean menu and is Glatt and open till 10:00 pm during the week, and Pilpel Kosher Foods (formally David's Glatt Kosher) offers sit down, catering, and Shabbat take out. The Young Israel of Tampa offers catering and takeout, and has a page dedicated to people looking to view the community and information on nearby lodging. Kosher Food Tampa @ Bais David Chabad, offers a light dairy menu with pizza.
Kosher food is available at the Winn Dixie which features a kosher deli and bakery. There are numerous supermarkets in the Tampa area that carry kosher products. Publix stores, there are a number of them throughout the area have some packaged bakery items that are kosher, and carry many kosher packaged items as well. There's also Trader Joe's which is constantly adding kosher products, and is a Chabad staple throughout the USA. Aldi known for its discount prices lately has been adding kosher products including breads, bagels, pita, and more that are kosher certified. Walmart and Whole Foods also carry many packaged kosher items. Discount clubs are also a source of kosher packaged items, stores like BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco are located in Tampa as well.
Tampa is located on the Gulf of Mexico, Central West Florida. Like most of Florida, there's plenty of shopping nearby. Theme parks in Tampa include Busch Gardens, Adventure Island, Zoo Tamps, Grand Prix Tampa, and Dinosaur World. There are plenty of city and state parks, as well as miles of beaches. Highways include Highway 275, Interstate 75 (Atlanta), and Highway 4 (Orlando). Tampa International Airport is located just West of all of the Jewish communities. Universities include the University of Tampa, and the University of Central Florida (Tampa Campus). There is rail service from Miami and West Palm Beach, however, it currently takes nearly 8 hours today (High-Speed Rail estimated in 2028), and bus service is anywhere from 7-11 hours depending on express or not.
To the South of Tampa, in the town of Wimauma (approx 30 min. by car), Chassidic Jews from New York have been moving in establishing a Jewish community. The area is not as developed as some of the larger cities making it an affordable option to move a large number of Jews from the New York area. Drawn to Florida by the lower rate of crime, antisemitism, and vouchers for Education (in Florida), all of the children attend private schools. Until recently the Jewish population in Wimauma represented only 0.6% of the total population, which is about to drastically change.