History project unites

By Jay Grenby, October 28, 2013

A museum’s appeal to local synagogues for information on the Jewish community in St Albans has inspired so much interest among both Masorti and United shul members that it has now spawned a research project which aims to produce a chronicle of Jewish involvement in the life of the Hertfordshire city.

The project is unusual in that it has brought together not just members of the St Albans Masorti and United shuls but also local residents who belong to Reform and Liberal congregations in nearby Radlett and Elstree.

Participants have begun consulting local archives, census returns and newspaper libraries. They are also recording personal memories, particularly from those remaining few who were born in St Albans, often to families who fled from wartime London to set up home in a city which was close to the capital but relatively safe from German bombs, and where the synagogue, opened in 1951, was a training ground for a handful of young ministers who later became prominent rabbis to much larger communities in London.

Group facilitator Jackie Gess of St Albans Masorti, said: “We have come across some little known evidence of a thriving Jewish community in the city as far back as the late 19th century.”

Now, in the hope of unearthing more photographs and data, they are endeavouring to make contact with former residents of the city who might be able to shed more light on the topic.

To help, contact the St Albans history group via info@e-sams.org or phone St Albans Masorti on 01727 860642.

Last updated: 10:45am, October 28 2013