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SAMS Logo 25 yearsRabbi Rafi’s words to the community this week can be found towards the bottom of this page.

This year – 2015 – is a very special one for SAMS.

Our community was started in 1990, which means that this will be 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 have already held a number of activities during the first half of the year aimed at including all parts of our community, such as the a Jazz Brunch and 25 Friday Nights, and we have more events planned for the coming months including:

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

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.

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 website tells you all about SAMS. Whether you’re a member, thinking of joining us, interested in Masorti Judaism or considering moving to the St Albans area and looking for a synagogue, please have a browse and then come along to see us in person!

When you decide you want to visit the synagogue, please call us on 01727 860642 or send an email using our contact form on THIS PAGE.

Rabbi Rafi’s weekly words
Shabbat 27th and 28th November 2015

Rabbi RafiBy guest writer, Debbie Hougie.

When I Googled Parshat Vayishlach the strangest thing revealed itself on a website. I had been thinking that it would be rather nice to tie in the Tree Council’s 40th Anniversary National Tree Week which starts on 28th November. When I reread the parsha I didn’t spot any way of making the link (apparitions, reconciliation and rape don’t really go with trees). But there was a link with trees and, even better, a link with a namesake – Deborah!

You need to look carefully otherwise you’ll miss it (like I did). Chapter 35 Verse 8 “Deborah, Rebekah’s wet nurse, died, and was buried under the oak tree below Bethal; so it was named Allon-bacuth.”

The demise of a woman is reported in the Torah only in exceptional cases. Indeed Rebekah’s own passing is not mentioned at all. Rashi says that mentioning Deborah is a veiled announcement of Rebekah’s death. Some commentaries add that perhaps the stories about Deborah were well known but weren’t included in the Torah. Perhaps what we can glean is that those who help great people (like our patriarchs and matriarchs) are, by extension, great people themselves, although they usually live in their shadow.

The tree that Deborah was buried beneath was named the ‘oak of weeping’. The Torah names many varieties of trees. How appropriate that this week it is one that we can relate to (allon meaning oak). And there is my link to National Tree Week! The campaign has its roots in the national response to the Dutch Elm Disease crisis of the 1960s, which destroyed millions of trees. Communities across the UK answered the call to help replenish their depleted treescapes by taking part in the ground breaking “Plant a Tree in ‘73” initiative. Following the campaign’s success, the Tree Council was founded and the first ever National Tree Week took place in 1975. Forty years on, and once again we are facing a major threat to our trees in the form of ash dieback. To stem the damage to our landscapes and neighbourhoods, it is more essential than ever that we grow more trees in our parks, streets, woods and green spaces. It was therefore great to see SAMS members planting trees at Heartwood Forest as part of Mitzvah Day last Sunday.

The Tree Council has a fitting quote worthy of SAMS on its website:

“Strong healthy trees are a mark of a strong healthy community, and to continue to grow strong together, it’s essential for communities to keep on planting trees”.

Happy National Tree Week, everyone, and Shabbat Shalom.


If you have any questions about SAMS or you are interested in joining our community, please call us on 01727 860642 or complete the form HERE to send us a message.