Sign In Forgot Password


History - Temple Ahavat Shalom

Palm Harbor, Florida, was a small rural town in 1976 when Temple Ahavat Shalom was founded. Although located only 10 miles north of Clearwater and 20 miles east of Tampa, Palm Harbor was only connected to the Tampa Bay region by a narrow two lane road. At that time, the Jewish community was very small. With the growth of west central Florida that occurred in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, Palm Harbor became a flourishing suburb of Clearwater and Tampa. As the general population grew, so did the Jewish community.

Temple Ahavat Shalom has experienced considerable growth since its founding by 18 families in 1976, when its primary meeting places were a hotel and a former restaurant. It is now a vibrant center of Jewish life where we worship in our beautiful synagogue and also study, celebrate life’s joys, comfort one another in difficult times, establish friendships, and rejoice in our shared Jewish heritage. Our congregation, with approximately 450 Temple families, serves many communities in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County.

We are a Reform congregation affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. We encourage a commitment to both the liberal principles that have long been a hallmark of Reform congregations and a warm approach to Jewish tradition. We utilize our Jewish heritage to help each member become more appreciative of his or her blessings and more committed to the moral imperatives found in our sacred literature. This approach, we believe, has helped us to create a community that nurtures the best in each of us and a Temple that is a second home for all of us.

Rabbi Jan Bresky (z”l) was engaged to lead the congregation in 1978. He left in 1987 to serve another congregation.

Rabbi Gary Klein became spiritual leader of the congregation in 1987 and continues to serve today as Rabbi Emeritus. The growth in numbers, vitality of the congregation and the strong sense of community we feel can be attributed primarily to the leadership of Rabbi Klein. His caring nurturing of the congregation and his dedication to its members has helped create a religious community that is both active and caring. We are grateful that our Rabbi accepted the invitation of our lay leadership in 1995 to serve us with life tenure.

Cantor Deborah Jacobson joined our congregation as our first ordained cantor in 2005 and served through June 2016. We are grateful to her for her devotion to our congregation and for sharing her beautiful music and spirit with us for 11 years.

Allison Rosoff, a gifted soloist, joined us as our cantorial soloist during the summer of 2016.

Rabbi Matt Berger joined us in July 2020 as our Senior Rabbi as Rabbi Klein transitioned to Rabbi Emeritus. Rabbi Matt is an accomplished musician who loves to sing and play guitar. Some of his hobbies include reading, swimming, and bicycling. He enjoys teaching both children and adults. He is passionate about sharing his love for Israel and believes in the prophetic call for social justice.

Part of the Temple we occupy today was built in 1981. Our sanctuary, office complex, and many of our Religious School classrooms were built in 1993. The Rabbi Gary Klein Youth Center was constructed in 2004. This center serves as a religious, educational and social center for our teens, a place where they can feel at home. The Ariel Goldman Memorial Library and Learning Center was constructed in 2007.

Our households are not only headed by young and middle-aged adults, but also senior citizens. We have approximately 150 children in the Weaner Religious School. Our members are proud to be a part of a diverse group of people who share a common commitment to ennobling our lives and the world through our identification with Judaism.

We invite you to browse our website. If you have any questions or would like to get to know us better please feel free to call Rabbi Matt at 727.785.8811 or email at .

Sun, July 14 2024 8 Tammuz 5784