Everyday lives of Jews in Utah

The records of Jewish people in Salt Lake City are rich with descriptions of the everyday lives of these people, and there is more information than any single exhibit could hope to do justice. That said, going through the Jewish oral histories with a fine comb uncovers a lot of stories that create a unique dialogue of the everyday lives of Jews in Utah.

One such story is that of the Congregation Shaare Tzedek, a Jewish synagogue founded in Salt Lake City in the early 1920s and home to a splinter group from the predominant congregation of the time. The group shared common roots, consisting mostly of Yiddish-speaking immigrants who arrived in Utah from Eastern Europe. It provided newcomers with some semblance of home by being a group that actively practiced their Orthodox religion while also allowing them to go out and earn a living to send back to Europe.

Some even went beyond Utah and served in wars for the United States, namely World War II. There is a case where Jewish men from Salt Lake City managed to meet up while serving overseas in the Philippines, and many from the Jewish population answered the call to serve. Fraternity brought together Jewish peoples involved in war, but it also extended to the home front and could be found at the University of Utah with physical Jewish Fraternities on campus. Often times, early fraternities were segregated by religion with Jews and Christians opting to establish their own groups. The U was home to Sigma Alpha Mu- the SAMies as they were known- which was an all Jewish fraternity that many joined during their time at college.

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