St Albans finally gets its man after a 50-year wait

By Jay Grenby, July 14, 2014
Rabbi Daniel and Alli Sturgess and children

Rabbi Daniel and Alli Sturgess and children

St Albans United Synagogue is ready to welcome its first rabbi and rebbetzin for more than 50 years, following members' unanimous approval of the appointment of Rabbi Daniel Sturgess and his wife Alli.

The couple will be arriving over the next few weeks with their three young children with a view to taking up their duties in mid-August. They have spent four years as co-directors of Aish Birmingham, where they ran an educational and social branch for one of the largest and most religiously diverse Jewish student campuses in the UK.

Both are originally from Essex. Rabbi Sturgess has a BSc in maths and European studies (Spanish) from Exeter University. His wife took a degree in psychology from the University of Wales in Swansea. Moving to Israel, they studied at various yeshivot and seminaries and are both graduates of the Ner LeElef outreach training progamme. Over the past 10 years, the rabbi has also created High Holy-Day explanatory services for the United Synagogue.

Karen Appleby, who chairs the 170-strong congregation, is confident that the Sturgesses are eminently qualified to steer the community into a bright future. "We believe they really are the best fit for us. Not only do they seem to have an understanding of the problems faced by a small and widely divergent congregation such as ours. They also have the enthusiasm and ideas to meet those challenges and create a structure which will help us grow in size, strength and influence."

Rabbi Sturgess said: "We are very excited at the prospect of joining such a forward-looking community and have been overwhelmed by the warm and friendly welcome we have received. St Albans is a growing community with a committed core. We look forward to helping to strengthen, engage and inspire the existing membership."

The shul hopes it will be a case of second time lucky. A Chilean-based rabbi selected last year decided to remain in South America.

Last updated: 11:45am, July 14 2014