About SAMS

SAMS is a lively, warm and welcoming Jewish community within the Masorti movement, offering a centre for Jewish life in St Albans and the surrounding area. SAMS Members can also join our busy Facebook page – click the icon on the left to join and access the page.

2015 was a very special one for SAMS. Our community was started in 1990, which means that 2015 was our 25th anniversary year. Over that relatively short period we have grown from services in front lounges of members’ houses to where we are today, at the very heart of the South Hertfordshire Jewish community. A truly phenomenal story.

As a member of SAMS, you enjoy many ways to lead an active Jewish way of life: through education for all ages and a variety of services, activities and events throughout the year. We are a community that supports each other, reaches out to each other, worships, celebrates and learns together and helps each other lead a better life, and we have a lot of fun!

 Mission Statement

Our purpose, which guides us in all we do, is as follows:

St Albans Masorti Synagogue – SAMS – is a centre for Jewish life in St Albans and the surrounding area. As a Masorti community we are inspired by the Jewish traditions of our ancestors and are aware of our responsibility to our descendants.

Our aim is to grow and to provide more and better services for our members without losing the warmth and friendship that is so important to all of us.

  • We look for opportunities to connect to members and potential members; we aim to welcome them warmly and give them a sense of belonging to the community.
  • We come together to celebrate: to pray, play, support and care for one another and to take our part in the healing of the world.
  • We educate our members, from pre-school to adults, to deepen their knowledge of and commitment to Jewish life and community.
  • We depend on the participation and involvement of our members for our continued growth.

 

The Masorti Movement

Masorti Judaism is ‘enlightened committed Judaism for today’s person in today’s world’.
Rabbi Reuven Hammer

Masorti comes from the Hebrew word for ‘tradition’. Our aim is a living and relevant Judaism rather than a set of curious repetitive practices, which mean little or nothing to those involved. Masorti Judaism places great value on the wealth of Jewish history and tradition. It searches for truth and value in this history and tries to retain beliefs and practices while adapting them to the modern world.

We are a part of the rapidly expanding Masorti movement, which includes Masorti Olami in Jerusalem, the World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues in New York and Masorti Europe.

In the United Kingdom, Masorti Judaism in London is the umbrella body that promotes the principles of Masorti Judaism. It acts as an information and coordinating centre for its synagogues and works on behalf of member communities in the context of the wider Jewish world, administering the European Masorti Bet Din (Jewish law court), Noam (the Masorti youth movement) and Marom Young Adults. In addition, it is active in encouraging and assisting the development of new communities.

Masorti Judaism can be contacted at:

Alexander House, 3 Shakespeare Road, Finchley, London N3 1XE.

Tel: 020 8349 6650
Email: office@masorti.org.uk

History

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St Albans Masorti Synagogue was started in 1990 with 3 families, originally meeting in people’s houses. Since then we have grown rapidly and are today a community of approaching 500 people. We have developed our own cheder and been lucky enough to employ inspirational Rabbis. For our first 20 years we were a nomadic community, but in 2011 we moved into our own building.

In 1991, SAMS was the subject of a television program called ‘Visions’. With the kind permission of the producer, Yorkshire Television,  we show an excerpt below.

We are now a thriving and welcoming community, with over 400 members (adults and children), who come together for Shabbat, High Holydays and other festivals throughout the year as well as for a variety of social and education events.

Over the years, we have grown to become one of the most dynamic and friendly Jewish communities in the UK, with our own rabbi, our own building and much more.

People

Our Rabbi

We are currently recruiting for a new Rabbi for our community after it was announced that Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth would be moving to Australia with his wife, Rachel and two sons, Toby and newly born Jordan.

It’s been a real privilege having Rafi as our Rabbi. He was a visiting student rabbi and scholar-in-residence at SAMS from December 2007 and, following ordination, he joined us as our Rabbi. Along with his posting at SAMS, he has also been a Reserve Chaplain with the United States Navy Chaplain Corps.

We would like to thank Rabbi Rafi for all he done for SAMS in his 8 year association with us and hope he comes back to visit us soon. We wish him and his family lots of success and plenty of mazel down under!

 

Our Community Leaders

Officers

Co-Chairs: Moira Hart & Simon Samuels
Hon Treasurer: Nick Flitterman
Hon Secretary: Helen Singer
Immediate Past Co-Chair: Alan Green

Trustees

Niki Freedman
Russell Goldsmith
Susan Hamilton
Michelle Knight
David Leigh
Darren Marks

SAMS At 25

2015 was a very special one for SAMS.

Our community was started in 1990, which means that 2015 was our 25th anniversary year. Over that relatively short period we have grown from services in front lounges of members’ houses to where we are today, at the very heart of the South Hertfordshire Jewish community. A truly phenomenal story.

To celebrate, we held a number of activities during the year aimed at including all parts of our community, such as a Jazz Brunch and 25 Friday Nights.  Other events included:

  • Silver Jubilee Quiz
  • Children’s 25th Party
  • Silver Jubilee Garden Party
  • Silver Civic Ceremony
  • Silver Anniversary Party

Our Civic Ceremony was a highlight in our very special year with attendance by the Mayor of St Albans, our local Member of Parliament, distinguished Masorti Rabbis, Clergy from other faiths and a great many of our amazing members.

The evening was made all the more exceptional when we heard from members both established and new – here are their stories.

Our Synagogue

How lovely is your dwelling place …’ Psalm 84

After many years (since June 2002) of searching for a building for the SAMS community near St Albans city centre, we have finally secured our own place!

On 18 May 2012 we held our first Friday night service, with over 100 people celebrating the conversion of an industrial unit into our new home. What was an empty shell is now a living, breathing, worshipping, buzzing synagogue and youth and community centre.

The major building works are now completed and we are now fully settled in.  Our magnificent ark wall has become a great focus for our community, and is proudly displayed on our home page.

ark wall design 2

Booking Our Synagogue for Events

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sams-25-yr-dinner-025

Our building is available for use for events such as meetings, seminars, workshops, parties and other functions.

Contact Us About Booking

Education

SAMS Cheder

SAMS Cheder mornings begin with a prayer-based assembly for everyone, followed by a lesson focused on Hebrew. Afterwards the children have a break, and Cheder then ends with a Jewish studies lesson.

In the first lesson, plenty of fun activities and revision are built in, and children learn in small groups based on ability. Once a month the younger age groups have singing, working on a repertoire of songs that support the Hebrew they are learning. For Jewish studies, most classes are grouped in two-year bands to learn about the Jewish calendar and life-cycle events, with stories from the Torah and other Jewish sources as well as other themes of Jewish interest, such as Israel.

Our Cheder is small – around 35 children – which allows us to give individualised attention. Children attend from school year 1 to school year 6. SAMS Cheder is available to members of SAMS, members of other Masorti synagogues and non-members (different rates apply).

From Year 10, many SAMS teenagers work at Cheder as paid assistants, a system that benefits both the Cheder children and the teenagers.

For more information about Cheder, please get in touch with Francine Cohen, Cheder Head Teacher, via the SAMS office on 01727 860642 or use our contact form

 

Bar & Bat Mitzvah Programme

In addition, we run a two-year Bar/Bat Mitzvah programme for children in school years 7-8, with an annual residential weekend and the possibility of other trips. Boys and girls tend to celebrate their Bar/Bat Mitzvah at 13 years of age at SAMS and most continue to attend the programme until the end of the school year.

 

Adult Education

Additionally, we run a variety of Adult Education courses, ranging from a Judaism Back-to-Basics refresher course to a weekly text study.

Please see the SAMS weekly email for current details about our courses, or contact the SAMS office for more details.