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!
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.
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.
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
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.
Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet
I’m Rabbi Adam, and I’m honoured to be the new rabbi at SAMS. A little about myself: I’ve had a bit of an unusual Jewish journey (especially for a rabbi), having grown up mostly outside of the community and entirely away from traditional religious life. After a troubled childhood, I found traditional religion in my adolescent years through the ultra-Orthodox community. After a time however, I found myself unsatisfied with the extreme approach to Jewish life and the intolerance of the modern world which I found there. Once again, I came to be on the margins of Judaism. By the time I had started university; I had no interest in Judaism, and certainly could never have imagined that I would become a rabbi. Yet, together with my wife, Mikayla – we discovered the Masorti community in the United States. It finally fit, and I finally felt like I had found a Jewish home that suited every part of myself.
Having never had much in the way of traditional education or rabbinic mentorship, I decided to try and enter rabbinical school at the Jewish Theological Seminary after university. Despite my lack of proper qualification, I was admitted, and while I started at the back of the class in terms of many measurable aspects, I thrived in the environment of learning and Jewish living at JTS. After six years of study, I’ve received ordination from the Seminary and I feel as though I’m finally able to do that which I’ve wanted to for some time: to take the experience of being inside the community, outside the community, and everywhere in-between, and to use that to reach others.
Mikayla and I, along with our son Azriel – are overjoyed to be taking that journey to St. Albans and to the Masorti UK community. I have been amazed by the warmth and energy that infuses every aspect of SAMS and by the passion that its members demonstrate in continuing to grow and develop the community without losing the familiarity and intimacy that makes it so strong. Whether you are a SAMS member or not, a St. Albans resident or not, Jewish or not – please don’t hesitate to be in touch with me and to partake in the special warmth of SAMS. You are always welcome- I’d love to meet you and for us to share our stories and journeys. You can reach me at SAMS at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 01727 860642.
Chair: Niki Freedman
Hon Treasurer: Peter Hart
Hon Secretary: Pauline Symons
Immediate Past Chair: Moira Hart
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:
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.
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.
Our building is available for use for events such as meetings, seminars, workshops, parties and other functions.Contact Us About Booking
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
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.
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.