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Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy holidays converge in the week ahead

03/27/2021 06:04:16 AM


Genelle Pugmire, Daily Herald

Beginning Saturday evening at sundown and through the next month, millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims will celebrate their most high or holy holidays.

The holidays all reflect a time when individuals look introspectively and outwardly in service as they remember and reclaim their devotions to their beliefs and deity.

Passover is from Saturday through April 4; Holy Week begins Sunday and ends on April 3, with Easter on April 4. The month of Ramadan is from April 12 to May 12.

The worldwide pandemic has changed up a bit how certain traditions are being played out, but devotees are certain a pandemic won’t stop them.


“More Jews serve Seder dinner (including non-practicing Jews), and Passover is the most widely observed holiday and the most strict of all the Jewish holidays,” said Spector.

Rabbi Spector worships in the tradition of reformed and progressive Judaism. The modern traditions are a bit more lenient that Orthodox Jewish traditions.

“The ritual takes place in the home in kind of a Thanksgiving-esque atmosphere,” Spector said.

“There are two big messages from Passover. One is being grateful for what we have. Food isn’t something we’ve always had,” Spector said. “We connect with the idea that tomorrow will be better than today.”

Spector said the second message is social justice and advocacy work.

“We ask who is still in Egypt, who isn’t really free,” Spector said. “The modern Jews have worked hard for Syrian refugees, for China and Myanmar.

“Who needs to be liberated from their bondage?” Spector said. “I ask in my counseling, ‘Where are you in your journey?’ ”

The Passover helps Jews to think of their journey, their walk through the wilderness of despair, pain and vulnerability and then the joy of entering their promised land.

“Next year in Jerusalem is a metaphor,” Spector added. “It means ‘may we find our freedom.’ ”

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Utah Finds Itself At The Center Of A New Legal Battle Over Israel Marriage Rights

03/22/2021 11:49:26 AM


Lauren Bennett,

Two Utah rabbis joined an administrative petition this week filed against the Israeli Interior Minister and the country's population authority in an effort to lift an order that does not recognize civil marriages for Israeli couples completed through a Utah online system.

In 2020, the Utah County Clerk's Office began offering online marriage license services that later became crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, the marriage license office has helped hundreds of couples get married virtually. In the fall of 2020, Israeli couples began to utilize the system and get civilly married online to avoid the travel usually required to get civilly married in another country.

"You can be standing anywhere in the world and get married, so long as your officiant is standing in the state of Utah and it is a legal wedding inside the state of Utah," Rabbi Samuel Spector of Utah's Congregation Kol Ami explained. Rabbi Spector and Rabbi David Levinksy of Park City's Temple Har Shalom Congregation, have both joined the petition.


Utah rabbi says Holocaust education resolution is 'justified and necessary' as denial increase

03/05/2021 06:52:42 AM


Lauren Bennett,

Liz Nielson was walking her dog in the Holladay area when she noticed a group of teenage boys abruptly drive away as she approached the sidewalk.

While she thought it was odd, she didn't think much more of it. That was until she saw anti-Semitic rhetoric and symbols drawn in the snow outside.

"I just wish they knew the history behind that symbol and those words; and if they thought that was funny, that someone can educate them on what it means and what it means especially to the Jewish people in our community," Nielson said.

For Rabbi Samuel Spector of the Kol Ami congregation, the incident illustrates why a recent resolution on Holocaust education signed by Gov. Spencer Cox last week is needed in the state.

"I don't know if they intended to be malicious or not, but all they did was prove how necessary this resolution is," Rabbi Spector told "What they did was basically send a message that this resolution is justified and necessary and that we need to do a better job educating our youth."

The resolution highlights the importance of Holocaust and genocide education so students understand the event that took the lives of 6 million Jewish people. It encourages the Utah State Board of Education and other local education leaders to emphasize the importance of learning about the Holocaust.

"These things have gone on for years, but it certainly has gotten worse," said Patrice Arent, who previously served for 20 years in the Utah State Legislature. While still in office, Arent drafted the resolution late in the session last year. Lawmakers ran out of time to adopt it before the session ended.

"It is essential to provide students with knowledge of the Holocaust and other genocides to help them make informed choices as citizens and to help root out despicable acts of hatred, anti-Semitism, and other forms of prejudice," the resolution reads.

The resolution doesn't serve as a mandate but instead acts as a way for Utah to show its commitment to the issue.


Utah Passes Holocaust Education Resolution

03/01/2021 10:52:40 AM


A resolution calling for Holocaust education in Utah schools has passed the House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Spencer Cox.

The resolution calls for every local education agency to teach students about the Holocaust with age-appropriate materials. It says that learning about the state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews and five million other individuals by the Nazis is important for helping students understand the root causes and ramification of racism and discrimination.

The resolution does not create a legal requirement for schools to teach about the genocide, but Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, the resolution’s sponsor, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the State Board of Education is working to fulfill the resolution’s requests.

Vickers said he was asked to sponsor the resolution by retired House Representative Patrice Arent, who is Jewish. Arent had spearheaded the same resolution last year with Vickers as her Senate sponsor, but it wasn’t passed before the legislative session ended. Vickers said he was glad to help when she asked him to try again this year.

Vickers, whose father was a World War II veteran, said he has read a lot of books about the Holocaust and has visited the DC memorial museum four times. He said he is concerned that the Holocaust is starting to leave public memory. As Holocaust survivors and World War II veterans pass away, society is losing those personal memories of what happened. “(We are) starting to hear people say ‘well I don’t think that ever happened,’” he said.

His concerns are shared by Rabbi Samuel Spector of Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City. Spector said that with disinformation on the internet and Holocaust denial, fewer young people understand what happened.He said there are children in Utah who have been given false information about the Holocaust. The mother of a pre-teen boy in Utah County, who was not Jewish, asked Spector to help educate her son about the Holocaust after the child came home and told her he had learned that Jewish people got to go to “summer camp” during World War II. Spector said the child didn’t believe his mother when she told him they were actually sent to labor camps and death camps.


Why religious dating apps are on the rise, helping Muslims, Mormons, Jews and other believers find ‘the one’

02/13/2021 10:51:17 AM


Peggy Fletcher Stack

It used to be matchmakers, marriage-obsessed parents and religion-based meetups that helped — or pressured — God-centered couples to find each other.

With Valentine’s Day and other holidays as stark reminders of the push to pair up, more and more young people of faith are turning to dating apps as modern cupids.

Online dating now ranks as the most common way for U.S. couples to meet, Ariel Charytan, CEO of the popular dating app — what else? — OkCupid, said last year in a podcast of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Today, singles are more interested in a potential partner’s beliefs, Charytan said, “than other factors like age and distance.”

That explains the rise in popularity of apps like JCrush and JSwipe (the No. 1 Jewish dating site), Shaadi (“redefining the way Indian brides and grooms meet for marriage”) Christian Mingle (for “people who share a commitment to Christian values”), CatholicMatch (“to search for the one God has planned for them”), and Muzmatch (“where single Muslims meet”) to find their future mates.

It is especially tough for adherents in a religious minority to connect to others who share their values, but even those surrounded by thousands of fellow believers are looking to dating sites.

When Rabbi Sam Spector of Utah’s Congregation Kol Ami lived in Los Angeles a few years ago, where there are nearly 1 million Jews, he still met his future wife, Jill, on a general dating app (filtered by religion, of course).
He had also used JDate, says Spector, who married in 2019, “but now everyone under 40 likes JSwipe.”


Sun, May 9 2021 27 Iyyar 5781