St. Thomas Synagogue
One of Charlotte Amalie’s most unusual historic buildings is the St. Thomas Synagogue (Crystal Gade, 340/774-4312, hebrewcong [at] islands [dot] vi, www.onepaper.com/synagogue, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri.), more properly called the Synagogue Beracha V’shalom V’gimilath Chasidim (Blessing, Peace, and Acts of Piety). Built in 1833 to replace an older structure, this house of worship continues to serve St. Thomas’s small Jewish population.
It is the oldest Hebrew congregation in the United States and the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere. The building, which underwent restoration in 2000, has been designated a national historic landmark. The sand floor is believed to reflect a tradition brought by early Sephardic Orthodox congregants, who worshiped on this site beginning in 1796. Visitors are welcome as long as no service or other event is in progress; a small museum recounting the history of the Jewish community is set in the back of the church. Donations are welcome.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition