St Albans Masorti Synagogue, which has been without a minister since the departure of Rabbi Jeremy Gordon to the New London at the end of 2007, has temporarily filled the breach.
American rabbinical student Rafael Kaiserblueth, 28, will arrive before Pesach to spend three months as a visiting scholar before returning to the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to complete his training.
The Sams community is delighted at the appointment, particularly after a Canadian rabbi it had recruited pulled out at the last minute for family reasons.
Mr Kaiserblueth is a familiar face at Sams, having been a regular visitor to the community, where he is known simply as Rafi. During his extended stay, he will be involved in all as-pects of congregational life — weekly services, the cheder, study sessions, adult education and mentoring.
He will also become involved in activities with local schools and interfaith groups.
Originally from Argentina, Mr Kaiserblueth has spent most of his adult life in New York and took a history degree before beginning his rabbinical studies.
“We are thrilled that Rafi will be joining us,” said congregational co-chair Laurence Harris. “His energetic style is popular with young and old alike. It is a wonderful opportunity for Sams to have him to lead our community from Pesach to Shavuot. We hope his stay with us will help him gain invaluable experience for his future life as a pulpit rabbi.”