Rabbi Raphael Kaiserblueth has been inducted as St Albans Masorti's first full-time minister at a ceremony attended by more than 200 people.
Guests included his parents and fiancée, who made the transatlantic trip especially for the service. His father Claudio, minister at the Beth Tikvah congregation in Richmond, British Columbia, was among the speakers.
Rabbi Kaiserblueth regularly visited the St Albans congregation as a student minister and spent a three-month stint in 2009 as scholar-in-residence. The induction was performed by Rabbi Jeremy Gordon, who left the Hertfordshire community three years ago for the New London Synagogue in St John's Wood.
As shul co-chair Jonathan Freedman recalled, it was Rabbi Gordon who had suggested, as his "generous parting gift to the community", that the student rabbi might, on completion of his studies, be the perfect candidate as his successor.
"Those of us who have got to know Rabbi Rafi will agree that he is warm, knowledgeable, compassionate and generous. He is dedicated wholeheartedly to SAMS and to nurturing and developing our community as we take the next exciting steps of our journey."
Rabbi Kaiserblueth said he was "learning and growing into my new role. We have been fortunate that our courtship was a two-and-half-year process in which we were able to build a relationship instead of the more normal speed-dating-type beginning that many other rabbis have with their first pulpit.
"Why do I love SAMS? Why am I at home here? Because here we combine the strength of our hearts, our convictions, with the strength of our hands. We meld humanity and compassion with commitment and responsibility. We look for others who share the goal of growing a community based on a solid foundation."
SAMS hopes to celebrate its imminent 20th birthday by acquiring its first permanent home.