The Biblical Garden
In May 2001 we marked the 50th anniversary of St Albans Synagogue by transforming a vacant and weed-ridden piece of land alongside the shul into a Biblical Garden.
The concept, which we believe to be the first of its kind in Hertfordshire and certainly the first undertaken by a United Synagogue, was created for us by a project leader, who researched, planned, organised and implemented all aspects of the garden. It has now matured into an attractive enhancement for the local landscape and has enhanced our building.
The garden is planted with more than 150 different trees, shrubs, flowers and herbs mentioned in the Old Testament, each with its own label bearing both the plant name and its biblical source in Hebrew and English. Supplementary information explaining the significance of each plant and/or its Hebrew derivation has also been collected.
Among the specimens are an olive tree, fig, pomegranate and date palm, cedars and myrrh, together with bulrushes (from the story of Moses) and the bitter herbs mentioned in the Passover story, as well as some rare and exotic plants not to be found anywhere else in the country.
Also in the garden is a tree planted by the Emeritus Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, when he formally inaugurated the garden at a special service to commemorate the shul’s 50th birthday. Still thriving, despite his disclaimer of any talent for gardening, is his liquidambar orientalis or stacte, the gum of which was in biblical times used to make incense for the Temple.
The garden, which was designed to act as a learning resource for members of the synagogue, as well as for the entire local community, both Jewish and non-Jewish, was made possible by the generosity of our members and other donors, including the Shell Better Britain Campaign and Groundwork Hertfordshire.
Further donations to the Garden continue to be welcomed.