After antisemitic comments, Lehi-based Entrata makes ‘transformational donation’ to Jewish synagogue

Rabbi Sam Spector said Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City hoped to highlight the tech company’s “allyship” after emotional meeting with its board and employees.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Rabbi Samuel Spector at Congregation Kol Ami in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019.

Lehi-based technology company Entrata is seeking to make amends with the Jewish community after its co-founder and former board member Dave Bateman wrote antisemitic comments in a recent email.

Rabbi Sam Spector of Congregation Kol Ami announced Friday the software firm had made one of two “transformational” donations to the Salt Lake City synagogue, with the other coming from longtime donor Zions Bank.

“This is something we did not ask for, nor did they ask us to share it publicly,” he wrote of Entrata’s gesture. “We have chosen to announce the gift to highlight the important allyship this company has offered us.”

Bateman stepped down from Entrata on Jan. 4 after sending an antisemitic email to Utah political leaders calling the COVID-19 vaccine a plot to “euthanize the American people.”

Sent early Jan. 3 from his entrata.com account, Bateman’s email cited an unhinged conspiracy theory portraying vaccines as an effort pushed by global “elites” including Bill Gates and George Soros to depopulate the planet, blaming the scheme on “the Jews.”

It also included references to a plot to secretly replace the Catholic pope with a member of the Jewish faith, which Bateman wrote happened in 2013 with the elevation of Pope Francis.

There is no proof to back any of Bateman’s claims. The conspiracy theory has been floating around in several different iterations since September 2020.

On Friday, he posted an apology on Instagram while also appearing to double down on his claims, writing that while he has a “great love” for Jewish people, his “beef is with the khabbalist (sic) central banking, secret society jews.”

Congregation Kol Ami’s needs

Spector said he met with Entrata’s board on Jan. 8. Several in attendance were crying, the rabbi said in an interview, as they apologized deeply for Bateman’s comments.

“That was one of the most touching meetings I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

Spector also praised Entrata’s swift action in severing all ties with Bateman. In addition to removing him from the board, a Tweet sent Jan. 8 from Entrata CEO Adam Edmunds stated that the company had informed Bateman he must promptly divest his equity holdings — and that Bateman has agreed to “cooperate with that process.”

Spector said Congregation Kol Ami’s board is keeping the monetary amounts confidential; he also clarified that Zions Bank has long been a generous donor and its recent gift is not related to the Entrata situation.

He said this new funding will allow the synagogue to focus on projects that its normal budget typically doesn’t allow for. The board will meet Wednesday to decide exactly how the money will be used.

Possible areas of need include replacing a boiler that’s over 40 years old, repaving the crumbling parking lot and updating the facility’s 50-year-old restrooms. He also said the High Holiday prayer books are falling apart and 7 out of its 10 Torahs need repair.

Another possible use for some of the money, he added, is funding antisemitism projects. After his Jan. 8 meeting with Entrata’s board, Spector said he held an online workshop with the company’s employees in which he addressed how people can recognize and fight antisemitism.

He said nearly 1,000 employees tuned in and the presentation was recorded so that the others could watch it later. Many of the questions he received during his presentation were about how people could be better allies, he noted.

“This was a really wonderful experience,” Spector said. “People were very attentive. They put in the chat their support and their love for the Jewish community, and that was incredibly moving.”

Spector added that Dave Bateman isn’t the only person with prejudices and ignorance, so he hopes more companies will reach out to him or to the United Jewish Federation of Utah for antisemitism trainings.