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Cathedral of the Madeleine is among the first churches in Utah to reopen amid COVID-19

05/13/2020 12:00:36 PM


Trent Toone

Jewish, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Latter-day Saint congregations among those who are still waiting

Rabbi Samuel L. Spector of Congregation Kol Ami said his congregation is fortunate to have several epidemiologists and other health care experts who are willing to be part of a task force. They will council together and make a “responsible and informed choice” to return when the time is right.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our congregants. That said, we are in no rush to reopen until we know that it is safe,” Rabbi Spector said. “I think we want to see what happens with the reopening of the state and if we see an increase in cases before we make any decisions.”


Utah churches can assemble again—and some will do so—but social distancing will be a must

05/07/2020 05:00:40 PM


Sean P. Means, Peggy Fletcher Stack, Paighten Harkins

The state has updated its guidelines for Utah’s churches and places of worship as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease — if family groups physically distance themselves during services.

“Churches can resume operation,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, the temporary head of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), said in Wednesday’s regular media briefing. “However, the one nonnegotiable stipulation is the 6-foot social distancing required by the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention].”

Rabbi Samuel Spector said Salt Lake City’s Congregation Kol Ami is assembling a task force of epidemiologists and experts as consultants.

“We will reopen once we’re sure it’s safe for our congregants to be together,” he said. “Opening up right now before the situation is contained is a gamble. We want to wait and see how it pans out for others before we put our community members at risk. We look forward to reopening once we are sure it’s safe.”


Utah's houses of worship to get new guidance on when services can resume

05/05/2020 05:23:08 PM


Ben Winslow

Houses of Worship Get New Guidelines

Rabbi Sam Spector at Congregation Kol Ami said it was "to be determined" when their synagogue might re-open.

"Our most important holidays that bring about 1,000 people together are in September. On one hand, we would love for everybody to be together for that. On the other, putting 1,000 people in a room right now is a very scary idea," he told FOX 13.

Rabbi Spector said his congregation was fortunate to have some epidemiologists and health officials who have agreed to be a part of a task force on how they will re-open, when the time is right. In the meantime, they have been live streaming services for members to watch online.

"Traditionally in Judaism, we don’t use electricity on the Sabbath," he said. "We see that this is an extraordinary circumstance and Jewish law says the preservation of life overrides everything else, but we still want to keep people connected."

He said the online services draws hundreds of people logging on, which is something positive. A number of faith groups have launched online worship services. The Catholic Diocese broadcasts a live feed of mass from the empty Cathedral of the Madeleine on its YouTube channel; the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake has been posting audio of its services as prayer services have been suspended; evangelical churches are utilizing Facebook Live and Zoom chats.

Read more and watch the video...

04/11/2020 09:00:52 PM


Brian Mullahy

Utah’s Jewish community is the middle of Passover, the eight-day celebration of ancient freedom from slavery.

For a second night Seder Supper, two synagogues—Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake and Temple Har Shalom near Park City—joined for live-streaming on Zoom Thursday evening, and drew hundreds of people.

Rabbi Sam Spector says: "Whenever there has been something that has perhaps tried to change the course of Jewish ritual and Jewish observance, such as when the temple was burned down, we had to get creative, and we had to get innovative."

Spector added that the most important tenet of Jewish law is the protection of human life.

Read more here...

Family and friends celebrate Utah girl's Bat Mitzvah in a new way amid COVID-19

04/04/2020 06:55:51 PM


Spencer Joseph

Sophie Kolb Bat Mitzvah

SALT LAKE CITY — Most large social gatherings — from parties to weddings to religious gatherings — have been canceled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

That includes Bat Mitzvahs as well, but Saturday in Salt Lake City Sophie Kolb’s went on all the same.

It started by the service still going on with just her mother, father and brother present, but that didn’t mean it was alone.

Dozens of families watched on over a live stream, still participating in all of the ceremony.

“We still sang and we still got up and prayed like we normally do, and it was in our own home and it really wasn’t that much different," one watcher told FOX 13.

That wasn’t the end of the celebration though, because as a surprise to Sophie, at the end of the live stream everyone packed up their cars with signs and gifts and lined up around the corner to surprise her.

“I had no clue… And then all the sudden I saw my two really good friends on the back of a truck and I’m like, 'Wait, hold up,'" she described. “I wasn’t expecting this. It’s just so cool that I can see all of my friends who watched it and it’s cool how all my friends got in contact with everybody.”

While Sophie couldn’t have quite the celebration that she planned, she had a message for everyone else going through similar things right now.

“It’s a good thing to kind of brighten up people's day in a time like this," she said. "If you are dealing with something that you have to miss that's really important to you, just know The other people are going through it and that people care about you.”

See the video here.

Wed, June 3 2020 11 Sivan 5780