History of St Albans United Synagogue

 

The first records of Jewish families living in the St Albans area come from the early 1900s. They, like so many other early communities, would get together in private homes for Shabbat and Yom Tov services.

Of course, no one would be surprised if there were Jews living in Verulamium (the ancient Roman town on which modern day St Albans is built over) but we are still waiting for archaeologists to come to us with the evidence!

Clarence Road
One of the original homes of the St Albans Jewish community

In 1933 the first formal St Albans Jewish community was established, though its members continued to meet in private homes. The community swelled during World War II by those who came to the area to escape the bombing in London. Many of these families opened businesses and remained in the city after the war.

In 1948, the community decided to affiliate itself to the United Synagogue and soon afterwards built a permanent building. The community’s current home in Oswald Road was opened in March 1951. 

shul windows
Two of the synagogue’s stained glass windows

The community was fortunate enough to acquire a pair of rare stained glass windows by the renowned artist and Hebrew scholar David Hillman. They are considered amongst the synagogue’s most cherished ornaments.

Unfortunately, the community started to dwindle throughout the 60s as people began moving back to London or passed away. But by the 1980s a new influx of younger families began moving into Hertfordshire. Ever since, the Jewish community has consistently grown and people keep moving into St Albans and the nearby regions.

 

The Chief Rabbi plants a tree in our garden
The Chief Rabbi plants a tree in our garden

In 1993, the (now Emeritus) Chief Rabbi made his first visit to St Albans to help us celebrate the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the community. In 2001, he returned to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the synagogue building, and to inaugurate the new Biblical Garden.

In July 2011, the community voted to switch from its long held affiliated status and become a full constituent member, getting access to the wide range of benefits it has to offer.

In May 2013, St Albans United made history by electing the first female chairman in a United Synagogue community.

 

From humble beginnings, St Albans United has grown into a thriving and successful community. This is our history and we are proud of it, but we are always looking to the future to become even bigger and better than before.

Our News section will soon be up for to see what the community is doing in the modern day.