Services & Events

At SAMS we celebrate Shabbat, the High Holy Days and other festivals throughout the year. Our services combine friendly informality with an atmosphere of concentration and involvement. We are fortunate in having many members of the community lead our services and everyone is encouraged to join in at their own level.

Families sit together and we welcome children of all ages. The congregation uses the Sim Shalom siddur, following the format of a traditional service, and the majority of the service is in Hebrew.

 

Usual Service Times

Friday evening: 6:00pm to 7:00pm

Saturday morning: 9:45am to approximately 12:15pm followed by Kiddush

Children’s services: once a month for all age groups

Festivals and High Holy Days: please contact SAMS office for details by calling us on 01727 860642 or use our contact form.

We look forward to your visit.

What to expect when you come to a SAMS service

  • We are obliged to maintain levels of security, and as such visitors should expect to be questioned on arrival, possibly have bags searched and should not leave anything unattended.
  • The use of cameras, mobile phones, other electronic devices and any writing implements is not permitted on Shabbat. We ask that mobile phones be turned off whilst in or around the synagogue building – or left at home.
  • We welcome children of all ages in our services. Children’s books and Shabbat-friendly toys are available to borrow.
  • For their safety, please do not let your children wander the building or grounds unattended. You are responsible for your children’s conduct at all times.

  • Please consider modesty in dress, as a way of showing honour to Shabbat.
  • All males (Jewish and non-Jewish) are asked to cover their heads as a sign of respect. Head coverings (kippot) will be available as you enter.
  • Jewish males over the age of thirteen should wear a tallit (prayer shawl). Jewish women who are accustomed to wearing a tallit are also welcome to do so. Tallitot are available as you enter the synagogue.

 

Shabbat

‘The Sabbath is the inspirer, the other days inspired.’
Abraham Joshua Heschel

Shabbat provides the opportunity for our community to come 13together every week. Friday night services (Kabbalat Shabbat and Ma’ariv) take place in our building at 6:00pm and normally last for an hour. Twice or three times a year we hold an Oneg Shabbat, when we share a meal as a community after the service.

The Shabbat morning service begins at 9:45am and is followed by a Kiddush for everyone. On Shabbat afternoons we meet in members’ homes for a Seudah Shlishit (‘third meal’) in the summer months and Havdallah in the winter, often accompanied by a shiur (study session) on a Jewish text or topic led by the Rabbi.

Our services are fully egalitarian and follow a traditional structure. We use the Sim Shalom siddur (prayer Torahbook) and the Etz Hayim chumash, both of which are published by the American Masorti/Conservative movement.

Our services are led by lay prayer leaders as well as our Rabbi, and members are welcome and encouraged to take part in all aspects of the service.

 

Lifecycle Events

Birth

The arrival of a baby brings joy to the whole community. To honour this special occasion, we encourage members to have a baby blessing in the synagogue.

Baby blessings normally take place on a Shabbat morning towards the end of the Torah service. The family is fully involved and we are able to customise the order of the service to suit the event.

Please contact the synagogue office to plan your baby blessing. Why not sponsor a Kiddush and invite the whole community to celebrate?

If you have a boy, the Rabbi will be pleased to recommend a mohel (a person trained in the practice of brit milah – the covenant of circumcision).

 

Bar & Bat Mitzvah

The goal of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah at SAMS is to give our youngest adults a feeling of ownership over the incredible tradition they inherit and the tools to live a Jewish life as they grow.

Studying for and experiencing a Bar/Bat Mitzvah gives our young people the opportunity to provide leadership in the SAMS community. They learn to lead us liturgically, as our teachers and as doers of good in the world.

We are committed to giving our members the best possible experience of their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, conscious of the differing backgrounds of SAMS members who want to celebrate this event with us.

SAMS runs a full two-year Bar and Bat Mitzvah programme during term time, including a special weekend away each year. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah service will usually take place on the Shabbat after the child’s thirteenth Hebrew birthday.

Marriage

There is nothing we like more than arranging our special SAMS weddings. These occasions are always lovely and intimate events in the venue of your choice.

The process starts with a discussion with our Rabbi, who will get to know you and what you are hoping for on your special day. You will meet our marriage secretary to sort out all the civil and legal paperwork, and you will be able to find out about the costs involved in our special Honeymoon Membership with our membership secretary.

Bereavement

The passing of a loved one can be a most difficult period. As in times of joy and celebration, we come together to support members and their families in times of sadness and grief. Rest assured that your loved one will be taken care of from the moment of passing until the burial through our chevra kadisha (Burial Society), which includes accompanying the met (the body) at all times and the ritual preparations before the burial.

Following the funeral, the Rabbi will support the family in making arrangements for shiva (the seven days of mourning immediately following the burial) at the home of the mourners as well as any emotional or physical support they may need. We are a family and no one will be alone during this difficult process.

Learn More About Our Burial Society

Download the SAMS Bereavement Guidelines

Festivals & High Holy Days

Services take place on all major Festivals and High Holy Days. We use our regular Sim Shalom siddur for Festival services and the beautifulLev Shalem machzor on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

In addition, a wide variety of study and community activities take place each year. Popular events include: our annual Community Seder, attended by over 100 people; a musical Selichot service at Rosh Hashanah for which we join with fellow Masorti communities; a Tikkun Leil (all-night study) on Shavuot; and the reading of the Megillat Esther and a dressing-up party at Purim, which is also shared with other Masorti communities.

Interfaith Events

SAMS takes part in a number of interfaith events throughout the year, including Mitzvah Day, an annual cricket match (which we always lose!) and activities on Holocaust Memorial Day.

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The Mayor of St Albans hosts an annual social evening where representatives from the many faith groups that reside in St Albans enjoy a pleasant evening and a variety of ethnic foods. In addition, our members are actively involved in FACE (Faith and Culture Enterprise) and other local interfaith groups, events and activities.30

 

Social Events

SAMS hosts a full range of social events and activities throughout the year, for all ages and interests.

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Some of our events are based around the Jewish calendar, such as our Succah Hop, a Matzah Ramble at Pesach, Chanukah parties for both adults and children, and a barbeque on Lag b’Omer. Our Community Seder grows in numbers each year, and we have regular bring-a-dish suppers on Shabbat.

Other events provide an excuse for the community to come together and just have fun, and some help raise funds for SAMS or other charities. These activities range from Quiz Nights to Games & Cards evenings, countryside walks and an annual summer garden party. During the winter months, there is an Israeli film club and a Sunday evening squash group. A monthly book group meets where everything plus the book is open for discussion!

All ideas are welcome, so if you don’t see what you want, please let us know by using our contact form and we will help you to get a new event started.