Shofar blown from top of 11th century St Albans Cathedral for Rosh Hashanah
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Shofar blown from top of 11th century St Albans Cathedral for Rosh Hashanah

Adam Zagoria-Moffet said: 'It means a lot to me personally, and our community. It's a city defined by religion and the partnerships forged between communities are important'

Far left: Canon Kevin Walton, Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet, Talya Baker and  Debbie Harris in the Church's belltower.
Far left: Canon Kevin Walton, Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet, Talya Baker and Debbie Harris in the Church's belltower.

Blasts of the shofar were sounded from top of an 11th century cathedral in St Albans on Saturday to mark Rosh Hashanah. 

In an historic display of interfaith collaboration, almost 200 members of the city’s Masorti synagogue (SAMS), gathered in small socially distanced groups to hear the notes in darkness. 

Three shofar-blowing members of the shul ascended the 144-foot tower – rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet, Talya Baker and Debbie Harris, with Canon Kevin Walton from the cathedral. 

Following more than a month of preparation and practice, the rabbi told Jewish News: “It means a lot to me personally, and our community. St. Albans is a city defined by religion and the partnerships forged between religious communities here are so important.”

Talya Baker blows the shofar!

Especially right now, when we are all facing the same threats, the collaboration and support of the Cathedral is phenomenal.”

For 1500 years people have journeyed to St. Albans on pilgrimage, and although very different, for over 100 people from our community to experience the power of that, standing in the dark in the Cathedral’s shadow and hearing the shofar blown was really powerful.”

Adam Zagoria-Moffet

SAMS’ Chair Darren Marks said it was “certainly the most spectacular in the series of events we have organised to enable the community to celebrate the High Holy Days in both a meaningful, safe and halachic manner.” 

“We are very fortunate to have such a creative Rabbi and team supporting him, but much credit and thanks must also be given to the Cathedral and local authorities for allowing the occasion to go ahead.”

As well as working with the cathedral to blow the shofar for Rosh Hashanah, SAMS also ran a series of initiatives to mark the Jewish New Year in a Covid-friendly well, including a talk in a field, socially distanced Yizkor services, and an online honey cake bake.

A spokesperson for the Cathedral told Jewish News it “very much wants people of all faiths and none to feel that they have a place of welcome” adding that it ” goes back to the story of St Alban himself, who in Roman times, opened his home to a stranger, who, as it happened, was fleeing persecution. He is, of course, Britain’s first Christian saint.”

We believe that when faiths work together, it sends a very powerful message out to our community about how we can be a diverse and open society.”

Practicing for the shofar-blowing. From right, David Rabin, Talya Baker and Debbie Harris visit the tower of St. Albans Cathedral where they blew the shofar on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. In the rear is the cathedral’s head verger, James Proehl. (Adam Zagoria-Moffet)

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