Masorti refugees set to be home at last

By Jay Grenby, September 16, 2010

Without permanent premises since its establishment nearly two decades ago, St Albans Masorti Synagogue may be on the brink of finding a home.

After a three-year search, a suitable and affordable property has been identified - an empty modern industrial unit on an estate just south of the city centre.

At a well-attended community meeting on Sunday, members were told that positive preliminary negotiations had been held with landlords, local authorities, police and architects.

Terms have already been agreed for a 15-year lease, with right to renew, of the 4,500 square feet unit.

It was also explained that a planning application must be submitted to the council for a change of use of the building from commercial premises to a place of worship.

It is hoped that planners will give consent by the end of the year.

The shul's building committee says the virtue of the property is that it is "a box with nothing in it and we can therefore fit it out exactly as we want. There are no awkward pillars to be worked around and the building is big enough to accommodate our largest services with some room for growth."

A straw poll taken at the end of the meeting showed unanimous support.

Shul co-chair Jonathan Freedman said afterwards: "We are really excited to move a step closer to having our own permanent home. As we approach our 20th anniversary, we hope to no longer be the wandering Jews of St Albans. With the energy and enthusiasm of our new rabbi and the widespread support of the community, we believe we can create a vibrant house of prayer, learning and meeting to ensure our growth and development."

The community's first full-time minister, Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth, took up his post a few weeks ago.

Last updated: 1:05pm, September 16 2010