Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Hurricane Aftermath Wreaks Havoc With High Holidays In Virgin Islands

The damage caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the curfew imposed in its aftermath has affected Jewish life during the High Holidays in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a rabbi there told The Washington Post.

Rabbi Michael Feshbach of the St. Thomas Synagogue — the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere, and the oldest in continuous use — told the Post that the islands’ curfew, which allows freedom only between noon and 4 p.m., had caused him to reschedule services for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

“I have asked for a curfew exemption until 10 p.m. this Friday night for Yom Kippur, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for Saturday, the day of Yom Kippur,” he said. “Whether we will get it or not, I do not know.”

The historic building, built in 1833 for a congregation founded in 1792, had sustained “a tremendous amount of water” after the hurricanes. While the plastic-wrapped Torah scrolls were undamaged, but the prayer books were either soaked or completely ruined.

Feshbach said that many Jews from around the United States had reached out to offer assistance. “I’ve never felt more of a sense of love and support,” he said, adding, “There are three kids who want to help us as part of their bar or bat mitzvah projects.”

Feshbach said he hoped people would bring supplies like dehumidifiers and generators. One man, Andrew Kavesh, is planning on flying to the islands before Yom Kippur and delivering babka, bagels and cream cheese.

“They’ve had it so rough down there,” he explained. “I thought this would be a nice way to break the fast.”

Contact Aiden Pink at [email protected] or on Twitter, @aidenpink

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.