Sign In Forgot Password

Local Jewish community concerned by Ye's antisemitic comments

10/26/2022 07:09:52 AM

Oct26

Darienne DeBrule

Local Jewish community concerned by Ye's antisemitic comments

The recent antisemitic comments by Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, pose an especially larger challenge to the Jewish community due to his influence.

According to Rabbi Sam Spector of the Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City, public figures often are capable of voicing particular opinions or viewpoints to more people with a greater sense of authority than others.

"When somebody is a leader whether it is a political or religious leader or media or performing icon like Kanye West, you have to think very carefully about the power of your words," said Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Koi Ami.

Read the full article and see the video

Utah governor wraps up trade, diplomatic mission to Israel

09/18/2022 06:32:56 AM

Sep18

Erin Cox

Friday wraps up a week-long trip to Israel and the United Arab Emirates for Gov. Spencer Cox and other state leaders.

For Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami, it has been a week to remember as he got to show off the place he once called home—Jerusalem.

“To show a place so special to me, maybe because it reminds me a lot of Utah or Utah reminds me a lot of Israel, was a wonderful privilege and something I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Spector said.

Spector joined Gov. Spencer Cox and a group of 60 leaders in visiting religious sites and other religious leaders.

“I was telling the Israelis about the different things we do as a community, how tight knit we are as a community, and how active and vibrant we are as a community,” Spector said. “You just saw their eyes getting huge and saying, ‘That sounds like the type of community I’d like to be in, too.'”

Connecting communities is what the trip was all about.

“It’s 1:30 in the morning here in Dubai,” said Aaron Starks, chief revenue officer of Global Business Services. “We’re about to fly to Salt Lake City.”

Starks led the business track for this trip.

“We had a company receive a verbal commitment from one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in this region of the world for $4 million capital commitment, so that’s huge,” Starks said.

Starks said they also networked with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the world’s 12th largest oil production company. They started conversations on how to help sulfur and mining operations in Utah.

They also met with Aerospace and defense organizations.

“The purpose of these trips is to accelerate growth for these companies. So we connect them to buyers, partners, investors in both Israel and the UAE,” Starks said. “It’s been a phenomenal trip and phenomenal experience for these companies very fruitful for them.”

An impactful visit meant to strengthen a community across the world and here in Utah.

“I think it’s important for us to go in, get examples from other places, but also to be an example,” Spector said. “I truly think that we are a small but mighty community, and that we’re going to be a light unto the other Jewish communities of the world.”

All 60 leaders are on two flights headed home. They’ve got 17 hours of flying time ahead of them, but say it was worth it.

See the video...

The Zion King Returns Home with Jewtah

08/05/2022 03:36:37 PM

Aug5

Patrick Gibbs, SLUG Magazine

"Jewtah," Photo Courtesy of Third Wing Media and Silver Sound

Growing up in Utah is a slightly different experience for each of us, and we each have our own story. Jeremy Rishe grew up in Utah in the ’80s and ’90s, raised in Mormon-centric culture, as a practicing Jew. Though he moved to New York decades ago, he learned that while you can take the Jew out of the desert, you can’t take the desert out of the Jew. Jewtah, Rishe’s whimsical and satirical comedy loosely inspired by his life experiences, is finally returning to Zion in the Mountain West for a special screening on August 4.

“A lot of people in New York are not from New York,” Rishe says, explaining that fellow actors and writers would frequently inquire about where he grew up. “I’d say ‘Utah,’ and they’d go ‘ Oh, are you Mormon?’ That was always the question. I’d say no, I’m Jewish, they’d be like oh, really? That’s so interesting. What was it like being Jewish in Utah?” Rishe, a graduate of the Actor Training Program at the University of Utah and who had his Bar Mitzvah and confirmation with the Congregation Kol Ami, found that the question always hung over him. 

Read the full article

Expert repairs Utah synagogue’s sacred scrolls — It’s ‘more than calligraphy. It is Torah magic’

07/22/2022 07:20:04 AM

Jul22

Peggy Fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune

Rabbi Moshe Druin, a sofer, or Jewish text expert, restores a scroll of the Torah belonging to Congregation Kol Ami using a turkey feather quill at the synagogue in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 18, 2022.

If your Torah scroll has cracked or faded letters, who you gonna call?

A sofer.

This Jewish craftsperson is trained in the art of copying holy texts.

Thus, Rabbi Samuel Spector of Congregation Kol Ami, Utah’s largest synagogue, engaged Rabbi Moshe Druin of North Miami Beach, Fla., to spend this week in the Beehive State, working over 10 sacred scrolls.

On Monday night, Druin, president of Sofer On Site, offered a crowd of about 70 attendees, many of them members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a glimpse of what his exacting work entails.

A Torah scroll is handwritten in Hebrew, using kosher ink, drawn with a feather pen on parchment made from the skin of kosher animals, the ebullient Druin explained, standing behind his work table, telling stories and gesturing excitedly.

Every letter in Judaism’s holy book — which roughly corresponds to the first five books of the Bible and when laid out flat would be the approximate length of a football field — “is counted and calculated,” Druin said. Each letter must be drawn by following strict standards for size, style and layout.

In addition to Torah scrolls, sofers also produce the handwritten texts for tefillin (black leather boxes some Jewish men wear on their heads or arms that contain verses) and mezuza (small parchments with 22 lines from Deuteronomy attached to doors) he said, and the Book of Esther.

A scribe must be able to hold his (nearly all are men) hand steady, sit in a chair for hours at a time, Druin said, and be fluent in the “art, wisdom and knowledge of writing Torah.”

Doing it is a religious act, he said. It is “more than calligraphy. It is Torah magic.”

Read the full article

What is a Sofer? The Sacred Scroll Restoration Taking Place at This Utah Jewish Synagogue.

07/20/2022 06:59:44 AM

Jul20

Trent Toone, Deseret News

Rabbi Moshe Druin, a sofer from Miami, repairs one of congregation Kol Ami’s Torah scrolls at the Kol Ami synagogue in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 18, 2022.

In Jewish tradition, a Torah scroll is a sacred document containing the five books of Moses that is handwritten in original Hebrew on parchment.

Rolled up in two ornate wooden shafts, the words given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy — are read multiple times a week and on holidays and include the 613 commandments that Jews live by.

“Our Torah scrolls are really the most important item in our tradition,” said Rabbi Sam Spector, rabbi of Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami.

But every few years the historic scrolls need maintenance and repair.

This week Kol Ami, Utah’s largest Jewish congregation, is hosting a sofer/scribe who specializes in restoring these ancient scrolls, often hundreds of years old.

Rabbi Moshe Druin, of Miami, Florida, has restored ancient Torah scrolls all over the world.

“I’m a conservator. There is extremely few of us. I’m talking about you can count them maybe on two hands,” he said. “It’s a very specialized art, mastering that Hebrew calligraphy on parchment. We use feathers and ink in the same way it’s been done for thousands of years and I’m here for the whole week. I’ll be going over all their Torah scrolls and hopefully restoring a large number of things.”

Rabbi Druin will be working on Kol Ami’s 10 Torah scrolls at its synagogue this week. His last visit to Kol Ami was in 2017, when he remembers fixing two or three scrolls. Members of the congregation and community can sponsor or contribute to the restoration effort by donating to dedicate a letter, word, verse, portion, book or Torah for themselves, family or friends.

Read the full article

Mon, November 28 2022 4 Kislev 5783