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How Utahns can celebrate holidays safely during the coronavirus pandemic

09/29/2020 08:56:13 PM


Hayley Crombleholme

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — The holidays are going to look a little different this year, as the CDC released recommendations on how to celebrate safely.

While some are looking ahead to Christmas or Thanksgiving, in the Jewish community, the High Holidays are already here. On Monday, Yom Kippur looked a little different for congregation Kol Ami, as they’ve suspended all in-person events.

Rabbi Samuel Spector said, "One of the most meaningful parts of Yom Kippur for us is to be able to have a personal prayer on the holiest day of the year in front of our arc.”

He says their temple was set to open to members this week for the first time since March. But a rise in cases of COVID-19 changed that.

“Once we started to see the numbers of COVID cases in Utah dramatically increase to 1200, 1400 diagnoses a day, we asked ourselves how can we reopen?" he said.

Yom Kippur is a day of atonement, fasting, and typically, avoiding technology. But the congregation held a livestream of services.

Read more and see the video

How COVID-19 has disrupted Judaism’s most sacred High Holidays

09/10/2020 10:44:58 AM


Trent Toone

Rabbi Samuel Spector and Cantor Laurence Loeb review the materials before prerecording the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur service at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

Under “normal” circumstances, Rabbi Samuel L. Spector might find preparing for Judaism’s most sacred High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to be more fulfilling and joyful.

But because of COVID-19 and gathering restrictions, Congregation Kol Ami is prerecording this year’s services weeks in advance and the rabbi says he’s working around the clock to complete preparations.

“This year it’s insane. I’m like in my freakout mode right now. I’m mega stressed,” he said. “I’m working over 100 hours a week, that’s what this time of year is like. I say it’s my tax season. ... This is the month when I question all my life choices, but we’ll get through it.”

Rosh Hashanah, which means “head of the year” and is referred to as the Jewish New Year, begins on the evening of Friday, Sept. 18, and ends the evening of Sunday, Sep. 20.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, starts the evening of Sunday, Sept. 27, and ends the evening of Monday, Sept. 28.

For Jews, the period connecting these important dates means an opportunity to gather, reflect and celebrate with family and friends. During a typical year, Jews take time off from work and large crowds assemble at their respective synagogues. Yom Kippur includes more prayer and a daylong fast.


Jews welcome Utah’s Ancestry making millions of Holocaust records available

08/30/2020 11:08:29 AM


Peggy Fletcher Stack

Seventy-five years after World War II ended, connections to the Holocaust keep fading as more and more survivors die. And the relatively few remaining find themselves at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salt Lake City businesswoman and writer Faye Lincoln has been searching unsuccessfully for some of her relatives, even reaching out to Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the millions of victims, and getting no response.

“As the child of Holocaust survivors from Auschwitz, most historical memories of those killed have been lost,” said Lincoln, who is on the board of Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami synagogue. “It is challenging to access records during the occupation in order to trace relatives.”


‘Mormon Land’: Utah rabbi talks about life in an LDS Zion, meeting an apostle, his views about Christians holding Seders and more

08/13/2020 06:54:36 PM


he Salt Lake Tribune

Rabbi Samuel Spector at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City has been in Utah a little more than two years but has already built strong relationships with members and leaders of the state’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Just last week, the 30-something rabbi was on hand to oversee a group of Latter-day Saint volunteers who spent five days working alongside Kol Ami congregants to xeriscape the synagogue’s six-acre plot.

On this week’s podcast, the young and energetic rabbi discusses coming to Utah, meeting a Latter-day Saint apostle named “Jeff,” traveling to Jerusalem with Brigham Young University professors and engaging in an interfaith dialogue that doesn’t tiptoe around big differences. He also addresses why Christians doing Passover Seders can make him uncomfortable and who uses the term “Zion” more — Latter-day Saints or Jews.

Read more and listen to the podcast

Why Latter-day Saints and a Jewish congregation joined forces in a major landscaping project

08/13/2020 06:45:25 PM


Trent Toone

Volunteers spread gravel outside of the Congregation Kol Ami synagogue in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Highland South Stake has partnered with Congregation Kol Ami to xeriscape the property around the synagogue. Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — During the first week of August, the 6-acre property surrounding the Congregation Kol Ami Jewish Synagogue underwent a major transformation.

In the span of five days, hundreds of volunteers worked around the clock in 100-degree heat and clouds of dust to remove old, overgrown trees and shrubs and replace them with new trees and drought-tolerant plants, decorative rock, concrete paths and patios, as well as a new drip irrigation system.

Along with a refreshing and colorful xeriscaped look that will save money and conserve water, a new bond of friendship was forged between synagogue members and Latter-day Saints of the Highland Utah South Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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Sun, November 29 2020 13 Kislev 5781