Latter-day Saint volunteers help xeriscape Salt Lake City Jewish synagogue in interfaith project

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Highland Utah South Stake help xeriscape the grounds around Congregation Koa Ami on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.

Early this year, the Highland Utah South Stake, a group of Utah County congregations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was looking for a service project.

In chatting with a member of Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City, they came up with a plan: Xeriscape the Jewish synagogue’s six-acre site.

They spent months planning, budgeting and calling businesses to provide goods and services for free or at a deep discount.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rebecca and Lizzie Ives from the LDS Highland Utah South Stake, help xeriscape the grounds of Congregation Koa Ami, on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.

This week, about 50 members of the stake met up with about a dozen synagogue members every day at 7 a.m. to help rip out the lawn and bushes and replace them with rocks, succulent plants and trees hooked up to a drip system. They created pathways and patios with concrete.

“With all the volunteer hours and items that were donated or purchased at a reduced price,” said Rabbi Sam Spector, overcome with gratitude, “we probably saved hundreds of thousands of dollars.”