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How religious Utahns are getting closer to God and one another — while staying 6 feet apart

03/30/2020 11:56:02 AM

Mar30

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Using technology for services posed a real dilemma for Rabbi Samuel Spector of Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami.

The state’s largest synagogue is a blend of Conservative and Reform Jews, and Judaism has strict guidelines against using electronics on Shabbat. At the same time, holding prayer services with fewer than 10 people is also prohibited.

But Utah’s governor had asked people not to gather in groups of 10 or more. Was this an extraordinary enough circumstance to buck the guidelines about electronics and could those who tuned in to watch a livestream be counted among the required minyan?

After much debate within the community, Spector decided to stream the service from inside the synagogue with only himself and the cantor there in person.

“What we were doing was putting public safety first,” he says, “while still trying to maintain our Jewish values.”

To the young rabbi’s surprise and delight, the effort “went phenomenally well,” Spector says. “Hundreds of people are tuning in to our services from all over the country.”

Some who aren’t Jewish watched it just because they were curious about the service, he says. One made a $500 donation to Kol Ami to support the cost of streaming.

It’s tough for Jews from Logan to Provo and Price to worship in Salt Lake City regularly, he says. Many of them told Spector: “I can finally pray with my community.”

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Utah faith leaders send messages of hope to congregations facing troubled times

03/19/2020 08:55:32 PM

Mar19

Trent Toone

Congregation Kol Ami, one of the largest Jewish communities in the state, announced plans to suspend in-person Shabbat services and hold services using livestream technology. Other upcoming events have canceled. The message was signed by Rabbi Samuel L. Spector and co-presidents Teresa Bruce and Jim Isaacson.

“Ultimately, our most important Jewish value is keeping our community safe while still trying to provide for their spiritual needs,” the letter reads. “Although these steps are requiring us to take unconventional matters, let us be reminded of the Talmudic teachings that ‘we shall live by (the commandments), and not die by them’ (B. Talmud Yoma 85b) and ‘(The rules against) endangering oneself are more stringent than (those against breaking a) commandment’ (BT Hullin 10a). We thank you for your understanding and for doing your part to ensure our community’s safety.”

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Utah faith leaders share goals, New Year’s resolutions for 2020

01/01/2020 01:02:37 PM

Jan1

Trent Toone

Rabbi Samuel L. Spector, Congregation Kol Ami: “My goals as a clergy:

  • "Take time for self-care and putting on my oxygen mask before helping others.
  • "Increasing our social justice programs for helping refugees, homeless and hungry in our midst.
  • "Organizing with partners to include more people into our tent and bring new perspectives to our community.”

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Community celebrates Jewish Heritage Night at Vivint arena with menorah lighting during Jazz game

12/27/2019 12:53:03 PM

Dec27

Peggy Fletcher Stack

 (Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rabbi Avremi Zippel of Chabad Lubavitch of Utah lights a menorah during halftime as the Utah Jazz host the Portland Trail Blazers, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019. At right is Rabbi Samuel Spector.

Hoops and Hanukkah were celebrated Thursday night.

In a display of unity and togetherness in northern Utah’s Jewish community, Chabad Lubavitch of Utah joined Thursday with Congregation Kol Ami, Temple Har Shalom, Chabad of Park City, Young Jewish Professionals of Utah and the I.J. and Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center on Thursday to host the fourth Jewish Heritage Night at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

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Posadas Navidenas, Hanukkah & solstice — A guide to understanding 7 different religious holidays in December

12/18/2019 07:45:15 AM

Dec18

Trent Toone

Cantor Wendy Bat-Sarah of Congregation Kol Ami said although Hanukkah is a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, it’s still important to American Jewish children who typically receive presents on all eight nights. Families eat fried foods such as potato pancakes (latkes) and jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot), attend parties and often engage in charitable activities.

“Historically, Hanukkah commemorates a time when Jews were struggling against losing our religion and culture. In modern times it has come to celebrate religious freedom which we Americans hold so dear,” she said. “Jews have always been a tiny minority of the world’s population, and yet, by focusing on our core ethical values and by taking care of each other, we have outlasted all of the regimes and social movements that have tried to erase us from history. For me, this is the enduring understanding of Hanukkah.”

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Sat, April 4 2020 10 Nisan 5780