Rabbi, his family celebrate 30th anniversary in Utah 

Nov 29, 2021, 4:02 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – This Hanukkah will be extra special in Utah for one Rabbi who is celebrating a major anniversary for him and his family in our community.

“Thirty years! Who would have believed it?” said Rabbi Benny Zippel from Chabad Lubavitch of Utah. 

In December of 1991, Benny and Sharrone Zippel received the assignment from the leader of the Jewish Chabad movement, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, to create a congregation in Utah. 

“I’m Italian born. Sharrone is Canadian. Maybe I should be embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of world geography, but my instinctive reaction was, ‘What? Where is Utah?’” explained Zippel. “And the Rabbi blessed me that this endeavor should be with immense and tremendous success.”

Carole Mikita asked him, “So, Rabbi, what has been your greatest challenge in the last 30 years?” 

He answered, “The greatest challenge — to have Jews become comfortable with their being Jewish.” 

Rabbi Zippel began by making statements in the community, like the annual Menorah lighting at the State Capitol, celebrating Hanukkah.

He also invited friends and neighbors to join them for holidays — like the joyous commemoration of Purim, honoring Queen Esther, or making matzoh for Passover. 

“It took a little while for people to get warmed to the idea and feel comfortable with it. That was perhaps the biggest challenge,” the Rabbi said. 

“What is your greatest joy?” Mikita asked the Rabbi.

“Seeing a person come to terms and deliver a certain degree of inner peace, satisfaction, connection with their being Jewish,” he replied.

Another great joy, the Zippels would say, is their family — children and grandchildren.

Their older daughter and her husband lead the Chabad congregation in St. George. 

Their oldest son, Rabbi Avremi, and his wife, Sheina, administer Chabad’s pre-school, academy, and summer camps in Salt Lake. 

“Having the ability to serve this community, to live that life of service and dedication and commitment, is something which was appealing from a very, very young age,” said Rabbi Avremi Zippel.

The Chabad congregation has not been accepted by everyone in Utah.

In 2013, vandals damaged the Menorah outside their synagogue. And this year, someone scratched a swastika into the front door. 

“I feel that the most important message for people to overcome bigotry and animosity and anti-Semitism, or beyond just the rejection of a fellow person who may have a different skin color, religious denomination, sexual preference, country of origin, whatever it is, is by again, by bringing God at the center of our lives,” said Rabbi Benny Zippel.

As the Hanukkah candles are lit once again, the Zippels hope the light is a symbol. 

“Continue to set an example of being a light unto the nations, of being good neighbors, strong neighbors, loving neighbors and accepting neighbors,” said Rabbi Avremi Zippel.

“We need to love one another, in light of the fact that we are all God’s creatures,” said Rabbi Benny Zippel. 

To mark Chabad’s 30th anniversary in Utah, the Zippels planned to light up Salt Lake City.  

It began with Sunday night’s Menorah lighting at the State Capitol.  

Monday night is Jewish Heritage Night at the Utah Jazz. 

Click here for information about other events. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual Gene...
Josh Ellis

President Nelson addresses using chair during conference talk

President Russell M. Nelson took to social media after Latter-day Saints noticed he used a chair to deliver his remarks during the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
15 hours ago
President Russell M. Nelson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during the ...
Tad Walch, Deseret News

‘Any kind of abuse … is an abomination,’ President Nelson says at Saturday morning session

President Russell M. Nelson denounced abuse as a grievous sin and an abomination at the close of the Saturday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
15 hours ago
Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, speaks during the Sat...
Josh Ellis

Sister Tracy Y. Browning becomes first Black woman to give conference talk

Sister Tracy Y. Browning, second counselor in the Primary general presidency, became the first Black woman to speak in a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
15 hours ago
Women hold signs and chant slogans during a protest over the death of Iranian Mahsa Amini outside t...
Ashley Moser

Sandy woman can’t get in touch with family in Iran after country blocks internet

Eida, an Iranian-American from Utah, said watching what is happening to her family thousands of miles away in Iran is difficult, especially because she cannot reach them. 
2 days ago
(Andrew Adams/KSL TV)...
Andrew Adams

Fall leaves in full glory in mountains above Bountiful, Davis County

This weekend is the perfect time to get out and enjoy the beautiful fall colors. KSL's Andrew Adams went down a less-traveled road in Davis County Friday for a closer look.
2 days ago
(Ray Boone/KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Lost luggage at Salt Lake City Int’l Airport packed full of illegal prescription drugs

A lost piece of luggage stuffed full of pills has Cottonwood Heights police investigating.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
Rabbi, his family celebrate 30th anniversary in Utah