Masorti synagogue gets its man - eventually

By Jay Grenby in St Albans, July 23, 2009

St Albans Masorti members have approved the appointment of student rabbi Rafael Kornblueth as their first full-time minister, albeit not until next summer.

Mr Kornblueth has been in St Albans as a visiting scholar, but will return to America to complete his final year of rabbinic training at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, for which the shul is supplying a part-bursary. By arrangement, he will commute back to St Albans to lead festival services.

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Los Angeles, Mr Kaiserblueth, 29, has spent most of his adult life in New York, where he obtained degrees in history and in Talmud before embarking on rabbinical studies five years ago. He is following in a family tradition — his father and brother are also rabbis — but he has an added nautical string to his bow. As a lieutenant in the American Navy, where he is a reserve Jewish chaplain, he undertakes regular tours of duty.

“Appointing our first full-time rabbi is a big step,” said co-chair Lauren McQuillan, “especially since this coincides with our looking for our first synagogue and community centre.”

Mr Kaiserblueth was pleased to have found “not just a job but a community that has already welcomed me with open arms and where I have laid the groundwork for developing it further.”

Last updated: 3:09pm, October 9 2009