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2011-05-20 digital edition
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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


May 20, 2011  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Rabbi Mordecai Levy, spiritual leader, teacher, dies at 82

Rabbi Mordecai Levy, spiritual leader at Temple Ohev Shalom, died May 12 after an extended illness. He was 82.

Rabbi Levy was a rabbi for more than 50 years, serving the last 10 years at Ohev Shalom, an independent congregation in New Tampa. He also was a popular teacher at Congregation Kol Ami, where he led a weekly discussion group, Mondays with Mordy.

At Ohev Shalom, “his role was part-time rabbi, but he also served as cantor and volunteered where he was needed,” said congregation president Steve Rothfarb.

“He was truly a wonderful man, intelligent, witty and caring. He did our first (rabbi led) bar mitzvah and did Shabbat services twice a month as well as other rabbinical duties.”

Rabbi Robert Judd of Kol Ami called Rabbi Levy “a rabbi’s rabbi.”

“I learned to be a better rabbi from him,” Rabbi Judd told mourners at Rabbi Levy’s funeral held at Kol Ami on Sunday, May 15.

Rabbi Levy never ceased to function as a rabbi, Rabbi Judd said. “He kept himself and others active and engaged” including serving as the kosher supervisor for several Tampa businesses.

Rabbi Judd also called Rabbi Levy a “true Ben Torah – son of the Torah.” He was always available to read Torah at a service or participate in a Beit Din, Rabbi Judd said.

“His thirst for knowledge was unquenchable,” said his longtime friend and colleague Rabbi Raphael Gold, who attended the Jewish Theological Seminary with Rabbi Levy.

Along with his ordination from JTS, Rabbi Levy held several post-graduate degrees, including a doctorate from Dropsie University in Philadelphia.

Rabbi Gold said Rabbi Levy had two great passions: his family including his wife of 55 years, Rana, and his love of opera.

His three sons and daughter-inlaw described their father’s love for them, for learning and for Judaism. They also indicated he was a bit of a matchmaker, in 2003 insisting his son Eytan attend a Tampa Israel Independence Day event to meet cantorial student Sharon Brown. The two ultimately wed with Rabbi Levy performing the nuptials.

An Air Force veteran of the Korean War, Rabbi Levy volunteered at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa and served as a chaplain at the hospital. He also had served as a prison chaplain for many years.

A native of Malden, MA, he came to Tampa in 1986 from Lakeland where he had served as rabbi at Temple Emanuel. He also served at the now defunct Congregation Aliyah in Clearwater.

Along with teaching at Kol Ami Rabbi Levy was a member and past board member of the synagogue.

Besides his wife, survivors include sons and daughter-in-law Baruch Levy of Dunedin, Ramni Levy of San Francisco, and Eytan and Sharon Brown-Levy of West Orange, NJ; brother Stanley Levy of Delray Beach and four grandchildren.

The family suggests contributions to Congregation Kol Ami or to the charity of one’s choice. Segal Funeral Home, Beth David Chapel was in charge of arrangements.

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