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3 Questions with Fox 13's Bob Evans

11/12/2019 07:04:34 AM


Rabbi Sam Spector sat down with Fox 13's Bob Evans

Full interview with Rabbi Sam Spector — watch here!

Is religion off-limits on the job? What the law says may surprise you.

11/11/2019 06:39:14 PM


Peggy Fletcher Stack

The biggest frustration for Jews in the Beehive State is getting off for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, says Rabbi Sam Spector of Utah’s Congregation Kol Ami.

Christmas is a federal holiday, the rabbi says, when most workers get a day off, but it is not a holiday Jews observe because they are not Christians.

For their holidays, many of his congregants have to use vacation time.

“Every year, I have to write letters to employers, begging them to allow our people to have the time off,” Spector says, “and explaining the religious significance.”


Young, ’dynamic’ Utah rabbi is bringing together Kol Ami’s Jewish congregants

10/10/2019 07:23:22 AM


Peggy Fletcher Stack

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rabbi Samuel Spector at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. The 31-year-old rabbi has led the congregation with sermons that draw on the past and push into the future.

It is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, and Congregation Kol Ami’s millennial rabbi is ready with a never-before-tried unifying tradition and a challenging sermon sure to spark fire. Or maybe heat.

Mixing convention and innovation is what 31-year-old Rabbi Sam Spector does best.

He is observant of Jewish rituals but open to those who aren’t. He forgoes technology on holy days but has officiated at same-sex weddings and interfaith weddings. He observes the Jewish Shabbat but has friends in every faith. He is at home in the world of ancient texts and modern phone texts.

Spector draws on the past to push into the future — and he’s not afraid to push others, too.

As it says in Proverbs, the rabbi quotes, “without vision, the people will perish.”

Change is “hard,” says Nicole Fenwick, co-chairwoman of the search committee that selected Spector, “and he’s not scared of it.”

Last year on this day, Spector chose to talk about the controversial #MeToo movement. This time around it will be political combatants Donald Trump and Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democratic Muslim House member from Minnesota.


Esther's Garden Award $2,400 Grant

08/26/2019 02:26:50 PM


This past Spring, a group of volunteers from the Native American community throughout Wasatch front, led by Sahar Khadjenoury and Utah Diné Bikéyah (Defenders of the Bears Ears monument), came together at Esther’s Garden and built the initial phase of an Indigenous garden space. The demonstration project caught the attention of many in the Utah Permaculture Gardening community.

Consequently, Esther’s Garden was recently awarded a $2,400 grant as it became recognized by SLC Air Protectors as a Sovereignty Hub. SLC Air Protectors is a local grassroots non-profit organization focused on action oriented environmental protections. The SLC Air Protectors Neighborhood Sovereignty Program identified Esther’s Garden as one of the program’s first Sovereignty Hubs, a movement that will lead to overall resiliency of indigenous people and promote regenerative earth practices. Esther’s Garden serves in such a capacity because it is a demonstration of permacultuture gardening, homesteading and ecological land stewardship. Esther’s garden also provides education and resources to further its developments and inspires participation from surrounding communities. With the Sovereignty Hub funding the Indigenous section of Esther’s Garden will continue its production of sustainable foods but will expand to a Garden Medicine Wheel. The Garden Medicine Wheel section will be a circle approximately 66 feet in diameter and will continue from the current Indigenous garden area. The Medicine Wheel is a traditional symbol recognized by various tribes and embodies healing, spiritual and astronomical properties. The Medicine Wheel is also recognized as a symbol of hope and a movement towards healing for those who seek it.

The Medicine Wheel area at Esther’s Garden will include sections that house traditional plants from tribes throughout the Southwest including Corn, Squash, Beans, a variety of melons and peppers. Other plants will include indigenous medicines and herbs such as Navajo Tea, sweet grass, sage and others. Because Esther’s Garden serves with the goal towards building community, the Indigenous section serves to grow foods and medicines unique to the first nations of this continent and provide a teaching opportunity for all to learn from each other. Having the indigenous section will continue to bring various communities throughout the region to Esther’s Garden to share cultural, traditional and spiritual ways with each other. 

Visit to learn more and remember to like and follow Esther’s Garden Salt Lake on Facebook and Instagram.

Jewish and Latter-day Saint scholars just had an interfaith dialogue in Jerusalem. Now they're going to publish a book.

07/08/2019 12:02:45 PM


Trent Toone

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shakes hands with Rabbi Samuel L. Spector of Salt Lake City's Congregation Kol Ami at the BYU Jerusalem Center June 5, 2019.

SALT LAKE CITY — At the beginning of June, an event at the BYU Jerusalem Center featuring two prominent religious leaders — Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Rabbi Michael Melchior, the chief rabbi of Norway and a recognized leader in Israel — served as both a highlight and illustration of something even greater that is taking place between the two faiths.

Not only did BYU students and other invited guests listen to two insightful keynote addresses and witness firsthand a respectful interfaith dialogue between two faith leaders, but the program set the tone for other dialogues and study sessions held at the Shalom Hartman Institute, the Jerusalem campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and Bar Ilan University for Jewish and Latter-day Saint scholars, said Rabbi Mark Diamond, a professor of Jewish studies at Loyola Marymount University, who was there.

Rabbi Diamond, along with fellow attendees Rabbi Samuel L. Spector of Utah's Congregation Kol Ami and Brent Top, who served as dean of BYU's Religious Studies Center from 2013-2018, agree that the Jewish-Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue Project is building new bridges of common ground and friendship between the two groups.


Thu, November 21 2019 23 Cheshvan 5780