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This is the place!

There is a memorial just outside of Salt Lake City called the "This is the Place" Monument. I thought, "Cool! They have a sense of humor about their religion." Thus began my education about living in Utah. They were serious. Brigham Young had woken up from a fever long enough to say the very deeply inspiring and wise words (note sarcasm), "This is the place"... and they had memorialized! They didn't even try to make it sound better. Good grief. Thus began my education about religion outside of California. Namely, some people honestly took their religious beliefs seriously! I was shocked. I'd grown up in California... you could be different religions and it was no more important that wearing different styles or enjoying different cuisine. But here, in Salt Lake City, people actually took their beliefs seriously. In fact, everyone took their beliefs and/or non-beliefs seriously. Religion was so "in your face" that no one could be neutral. Of course, that made Salt Lake City the most perfect place in the world for this next stage in spiritual growth.

This is probably an appropriate juncture to discuss types of growth. There is growth that comes from quantitative changes and growth that comes from qualitative changes. Perhaps more simply put: there is change of attitude and there is learning more. I have found that qualitative (attitudinal) changes are abrupt, but don't lead immediately to changes in behavior. The changes in behavior come as one learns more within the new frame of reference. The Union Hagadah had given me a new perspective, now I needed information.

Salt Lake City had a small but very active Jewish community. There were compromises all over the place because it was worth sticking together just because we were so outnumbered. There was one synagogue -- Reform services Friday night, Conservative on Saturday morning, and a more-or-less orthodox minyan on Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. (It was called Kol Ami -- meant to be with a "chaf", meaning "All my people" but somehow got started with a "kuf", meaning "The Voice of My People"... oh well.) To further accommodate, we had a Reform rabbi and Conservative cantor. We also had two kosher kitchens and the congregation paid shipping on kosher meat ordered through the synagogue. Really very cool that it all worked together. There was some grumbling ("why should be pay their food bill"), but it honestly worked very well.

So we started going Friday nights and Saturday mornings. Also, I went to the Sunday, Monday, and Thursday minyan. Those weekday minyanim were most older business men, some retired, so they went out to breakfast afterward; I was invited along and got to know that segment of the community. Because we were going every Friday night we got to know the younger, but very reform, couples. Saturday morning we yet another, somewhat more traditional crowd. Being in that mix allowed us to learn about all sorts of different views. We started going to adult education classes, we went out with friends on Friday night, and we went to Shabbos meals at different houses. We got an education that would have been hard to find anywhere else. No doubt, for where we were holding and what we needed... this was the place.

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