St Albans Synagogue members turned out in numbers for the induction of its first rabbi in more than 50 years - former Aish UK director Daniel Sturgess.
Rabbi Sturgess and his wife, Alli, were appointed as joint rabbinical couple just over a year ago.
In her welcome remarks to the ceremony, synagogue chair Karen Appleby explained that the shul had survived by using lay readers to lead services. But with the impetus generated from having a rabbinical couple, membership had risen close to the 200 mark.
"Our members cannot speak highly enough of the positive impact made on our community by our new rabbinic couple. We hope that this day marks just the beginning of a long and successful relationship."
In his induction address, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis noted: "The community is pleased to have such a wonderful couple to lead it, while they [the couple] are pleased to be leading such a wonderful group of people."
Responding, Rabbi Sturgess said that on meeting the congregation, he and his wife appreciated that "this was a community with real warmth, dedication and ambition. It was perfectly suited to us.
"Since arriving in St Albans, we have seen consistently well-attended services for Shabbat and festivals and for adult education programmes and social events. We have seen children running around the synagogue on family fun days, for arts and crafts afternoons and for ice cream kiddushim. We've seen adults running around the synagogue for sushi kiddushim and, more importantly for us, we have seen enthusiastic participation in every new initiative."