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Elder Pearson at interfaith fireside: Religions ‘add immeasurably to the quality of life’

05/03/2023 11:22:36 AM


Joel Randall

Rabbi Samuel L. Spector of Congregation Kol Ami speaks at an interfaith fireside at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

On Tuesday, May 2, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted an interfaith fireside in the historic Salt Lake Tabernacle. This event was inspired by the Tabernacle Experience event, a full-sized, Old Testament tabernacle display showcased around Utah.

A frequent comment Rabbi Samuel L. Spector heard when he said he was moving to Utah was, “Those people are crazy. They believe that Jesus was in America. Can you believe that?” But the Rabbi, of Congregation Kol Ami, believes it isn’t such a crazy concept at all.

“The tabernacle’s existence showed that God was not stationary,” he said, “and that God could move and be found wherever people gathered.” If this were not the case, said Rabbi Spector, there would’ve been no Judaism — and consequently no Christianity or Islam — after the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C.E.

Rabbi Spector had his most powerful prayer experience not in an expensive synagogue, but in a cellar during a tour of the Theresienstadt concentration camp in the Czech Republic. A Jewish prisoner, Arthur Berlinger, had secretly painted art, prayers and Bible verses in a cellar to maintain his Jewish faith. Through prayer in such a small yet sacred space, the Rabbi felt God’s presence.

“We can all take a piece of what the tabernacle gave to us and bring it with us wherever we go. And in doing so, we can establish light and holiness.”

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Sat, May 25 2024 17 Iyyar 5784