Filed Under Religion

Congregation Kol Ami

Nestled in the foothills of Salt Lake City, Congregation Kol Ami recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. Born of a merger between two branches of Judaism, this synagogue now serves about a quarter of Utah’s Jewish population.

Salt Lake City’s Jewish community traces its roots back to 1854, with the arrival of both European immigrants and east-coast transplants. Several prominent figures in Utah history belonged to this community, including brothers Samuel and Frederick Auerbach (founders of the People’s Store: F. Auerbach and Brothers) and Simon Bamberger, who was elected governor of Utah in 1916. The city’s first synagogues were Congregation B’nai Israel and Congregation Montefiore. Congregation B’nai Israel was founded in 1891 and served those following Reform practices, while Congregation Montefiore was established in 1899 and served Conservative adherents to the faith. 

Congregation Kol Ami was established in 1972 as a result of a merger between these two historic communities. The merger occurred for several reasons. Financially, it was more viable to have Salt Lake’s Jewish community gather in one place. It also strengthened ties between adherents of Reform and Conservative Judaism. The synagogue’s name, Kol Ami roughly translates to “all of my people” in Hebrew.  Because it is a joint Conservative and Reform Congregation, Congregation Kol Ami holds Reform worship services on Fridays and Conservative on Saturdays. Now into its fiftieth year, Congregation Kol Ami serves about 400 families and has experienced 35% growth since Rabbi Samuel Spector’s tenure began in 2018. 

Construction of the synagogue was completed in the early 1970s. It is a multi-purpose space, holding classrooms, offices, a central worship space, and a kitchen. In addition to Shabbat services, the synagogue hosts daily classes at the Rafi Schwartz Religious School. The mission of the Religious School is “to create students who are active participants in the intellectual, religious, and cultural traditions of Judaism.” The school serves students of various backgrounds and traditions from preschool through 12th grade. 

Congregation Kol Ami hosts a number of community events, including a class called “Introduction to Jewish Life.” Members of the congregation or interested residents of the greater Salt Lake area are invited to come learn more about Jewish beliefs, practices, history, holidays, and basic Hebrew. There are also Sunday study sessions hosted by Rabbi Fred Wenger. Topics vary week by week, but typically address themes connected to the Jewish diaspora. With their emphasis on education, community, and worship, Kol Ami’s congregants are wonderful contributors to Salt Lake City’s diversity and development.

Images

Exterior of Kol Ami, taken between the 1970s-1980s.<br />
Exterior of Kol Ami, taken between the 1970s-1980s.
Used with permission by Rabbi Spector
Congregation Kol Ami Exterior
Congregation Kol Ami Exterior Exterior of the synagogue. Credit: Kol Ami website.
Torah Scrolls
Torah Scrolls Image taken by Isabella Holt
Display honoring SLC’s pioneer Jews<br />
Display honoring SLC’s pioneer Jews
Photo taken by Isabella Holt

Location

Metadata

Isabella Holt, Brigham Young University, “Congregation Kol Ami,” Intermountain Histories, accessed May 24, 2024, https://www.intermountainhistories.org/items/show/759.