Congregation Kol Ami was started as a way to take care of the needs of the Jewish community in North Tampa. We started as a group of 16 families who were eager to have a Jewish organization in the area, but we weren’t sure what was needed. We received from the Jewish Federation of Tampa, names of people who lived in one of the zip codes we considered “North Tampa” and a letter and questionnaire was sent telling them that we were going to have a meeting in their area. Three meetings were held, and we found everyone who came was also interested in the same goals for the Jewish community in North Tampa. It was decided to form a synagogue and Congregation Kol Ami was established in 1978.
Our first services were held in a Masonic Lodge with members of the congregation conducting all aspects of the services until we engaged our first rabbi in 1980. Ever since that time, members of the congregation have continued to participate extensively in our religious services. Kol Ami started as an egalitarian synagogue and continues to be that today. Our first Religious School classes were held on the rustic grounds of a local private school. We now have many classrooms within our Synagogue building. Since the beginning, we have encouraged participation from children of all ages. Today, many of our Torah readers are teenagers and every year each class in our Kol Yeladim School has the opportunity to lead services.
The original synagogue facility contained a sanctuary, a social hall, classrooms, office space, and a kitchen. It opened shortly before the High Holiday Services in 1982. In 1998, the congregation completed a major expansion which included; enlarging the sanctuary, social hall, and kitchen, adding a chapel for daily minyans, a board room and the school wing. The whole building is used extensively during the week with many different activities going on during the day and evening.
Our synagogue family has 348 households and has grown spiritually and has still been able to keep the “Hamish” and warm feelings of a neighborhood shul.
In 2000, it was determined that there was a need for a cemetery in the North Tampa area. The congregation purchased 5 acres of land located on County Line Road in Lutz. The first 2 acres have already been developed and expansion is projected. For more information on Gan Shalom (Garden of Peace), please visit the page on this website.