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ST THOMAS — Nestled in the heart of Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas lies a sacred space that transcends time and echoes with centuries of history. The St. Thomas Synagogue stands as a beacon of resilience, faith, and cultural heritage, boasting the distinction of being the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest in continuous use in the United States. Stepping into its hallowed halls, visitors are enveloped in an atmosphere of reverence and awe, surrounded by architectural marvels and poignant relics of the past.

The story of the St. Thomas Synagogue is as rich and diverse as the congregation it serves. Individual Jews have called St. Thomas home since the 1600s, laying the foundation for a vibrant and enduring community. In 1796, nine Sephardic Jewish families, descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, came together to establish a congregation, sowing the seeds for what would become a storied legacy of faith.

The journey of the synagogue has not been without its trials. Its early years were marked by adversity, with the first synagogue built in 1803 consumed by flames a mere year later. Thanks to a resilient community, they rebuilt, only to face devastation once again in 1806. Despite these setbacks, the steadfast spirit of the congregation persevered to rebuild anew.

Today, the St. Thomas Synagogue is one of the most captivating and beautiful synagogues in the world. Its domed ceiling, adorned with a Baccarat crystal candelabra, soars above the synagogue’s sand floors. A nod to centuries-old tradition, the sand floors serve as a reminder of the clandestine prayers of ancestors who sought solace and solidarity in the face of persecution. The mahogany pews, crafted by skilled shipbuilders, speak to the island’s maritime heritage, while the Ark, adorned with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, serves as a timeless symbol of faith and tradition. In 2000, the St. Thomas Synagogue underwent a meticulous restoration to ensure its historic significance and architectural splendor would endure for generations to come. It stands proudly as one of only three National Historic Landmarks on St. Thomas.

In the rear foyer of the synagogue lies the Weibel Memorial Museum, a tribute to the rich tapestry of St. Thomas’ Jewish history. Established in 1995, the museum houses a collection of images, artifacts, and plaques that commemorate the contributions of generations past, from congregants to island governors.

The St. Thomas Synagogue is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm. For worshippers and visitors who desire to experience this sacred space, Shabbat Services are held at 6:30pm on Fridays and 10am on Saturdays. For more information and updates, visit their website at

Written by Anquanette Gaspard