Why the Sand

above the town on Krystal Gadde

above the town on Krystal Gadde

 

Here the foot prints are clear and defined in the sand covering the Synagogue’s floor. The floor here has always been covered by sand. The Sephardic Jews who originally established the congregation originating from Portugal. Starting with the Inquisition, as Rabbi Starr puts it, you had three choices: convert, leave, or die. If you were a Converso and continued to practice in secret, it was in the basement of your house, in the dark with sand on the floor to muffle footsteps and voices.

covering the marble floor since the beginning

covering the marble floor since the beginning

When leaving, many Jews went from Portugal to South America (especially Brazil). When Portugal took the country firmly in hand, the Inquisition followed and they moved on. Many went to St Eustacious in the Caribbean where they were successful for many years including running supplies past the British blockages to help support the new colonists during the US Revolutionary War.  Many came to St Thomas in 1796 after their island was burned to the ground (thank you King George).

The Bima on this side

The Bima on this side

the Ark on this

the Ark on this

Walking between the pews of the sanctuary, I visit the exhibit in the backroom of the Hebrew Congregation of St Tomas. Located on the side of what is now known as Synagogue Hill, it was last rebuilt in 1832/33 after a major fire destroyed the building and a large amount of the town. There is little left of the original Ladino tradition and the local Minhag seems to best described as ReconstrucaReformaDox with a bit of Conservative thrown in for leavening. ¬†(Local Joke – what do you call a Jew here who keeps Kosher? A Vegetarian….)

11th Century Moroccan Menorah from the establishment of the Congregation

11th Century Moroccan Menorah from the establishment of the Congregation

Established on the Historical Register

Established on the Historical Register

 

 

Ft Christian

is the other Historical Register site on St Thomas. Currently, as you can see it is under renovation.

 

Veteran’s Memorial Park

Army – from Korea through to the present…

One Pillar per Service Branch

One Pillar per Service Branch

Other Ships in Port

But at the other harbor from us. There are a couple of more ships tucked behind, but I don’t care enough to hike the mile down to their pier….

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1 Response to Why the Sand

  1. AlisonH says:

    White sand, at that, which seems appropriate for the solemnity of the place.

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