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Rabbi Search Information

Thank you to Jim Isaacson and Nicole Fenwick and our Rabbi Search Committee for all of their hard work in helping us find a new Rabbi!

Rabbi Sam Spector will begin on 
July 1, 2018

As always if you have comments or wish to receive more information, contact



Welcome to Our New Rabbi!

Dear Rabbinic Search Committee and Congregation Kol Ami,

First and foremost, Todah Rabbah for making my dreams come true!

Over the past two weeks, I have been at the AIPAC Policy Conference meeting with Utah’s elected officials, a Mormon-Jewish dialogue with the Religious Studies Department of BYU, and the CCAR Conference, and I have been treated like a rock star at these events when people hear that I am going to Congregation Kol Ami.

The truth of the matter was, I was humbled to have been offered positions at multiple synagogues in big cities across America, but it was you all who stole my heart. After I made my decision and cancelled one of my interviews at one of the nation’s largest synagogues, that synagogue called me back and said that they would still fly me out even if there was a 10% level of uncertainty that Kol Ami was the right place for me; as touched as I was, I had to respond, “I am very sorry, but I am 100% sure that I found the right home for me.” 

In my visit with you all, I was impressed with how you have been able to balance the rich traditions that the Conservative Movement beautifully upholds with the Reform Movement’s approach to tackling the challenges that st Century. I also was blown away by the authenticity of your worship (which was enhanced by the incredible talent of Cantor Bat-Sarah) and the intellectual curiosity that I saw when you would struggle with Jewish texts with me, Rabbi Wenger, and Cantor Loeb. faces American Judaism in the 21

However, what sealed my decision was the genuine kindness that I saw and how people at Kol Ami truly treat each other as family; from the teens offering to give me Salt Lake City pointers, to the enthusiasm of the vibrant young professionals, to the compassion of the Staff, I was truly touched. Kol Ami is the synagogue I would want to join as a member! 

Of course, I know that ultimately in order for the week to be a success, it came down to the hours of emotionally draining work of the Rabbinic Search Committee. I want to thank you for your dedication to OUR community and making the weekend such a positive experience for both Jill and me. Because of your efforts, we do not feel like we are moving to a new place, but rather that we are coming home.

I would like to thank Boaz, David, Teresa, and Danny for flying all the way out to Los Angeles to meet with me to follow up after my visit. What a sign of love! But also, I recognize that none of this could have happened without the two wonderful co-chairs, Nicole Fenwick and Jim Isaacson. Thank you to you and your families for the tremendous sacrifice of your time and energy for our community, you made this experience so meaningful for me and were wonderful ambassadors for Utah at large. Nicole, I gave you back the bottle of wine and said, “Keep this wine for dinner with your new rabbi, whomever that may be.” Send me dates and don’t drink my wine!

Looking forward to coming home to Salt Lake City and seeing my amazing new family.


Rabbi Sam Spector


Rabbi Sam L. Spector Bio


A native of Seattle, Rabbi Spector is an Associate Rabbi, one of three, at Temple Judea in Tarzana, California. He was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 2015 after graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from UC San Diego with a B.A. in Judaic Studies. He will be visiting with his partner, Jill Goffin.

During his tenure at Temple Judea, he has been active in several areas, especially growing the millennial membership, strengthening the Temple Judea Brotherhood, developing young family services and Tot Shabbat, chairing and developing Interfaith Groups, serving as Rabbi at California State, Northridge, and serving as President of the West Valley Rabbinic Task Force (a regional network of 70 plus rabbis across denominations that organizes community events and discusses regional engagement with unaffiliated Jews).

He has extensive experience in Jewish education not only with youth but also adults having taught and organized guest speakers for both age groups, and having led groups from NFTY to Israel and Confirmation L'Taken trips. He has been instrumental in raising funds for Temple Judea, Hillel and for a fellowship for Rabbinical School Students. He has been a delegate to the Jewish Welfare Board overseeing the relationship between the Reform movement and the US military, Rabbi to the Advisory Board of the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, and has forged working relationships with many elected officials of the city council and congress of both dominant political parties. Rabbi Spector is also an LTJG Chaplain Corps Candidate of the United States Navy.

Lastly, several of his sermons are available on YouTube and an article entitled "May We find Hope and Joy in the Flames of the Menorah," available online and in the Los Angeles Daily news. He was one of two winners of the International Whizin Prize on Jewish Ethics with his essay "Re-examining Kashrut: Taking into Consideration the Treatment of an Animal Prior to Slaughter," also available at






Fri, January 18 2019 12 Shevat 5779