Weibel Museum commemorates history of island's Jews
by Andrea Weibel

     The Weibel Museum was a dream brought into reality in 1995 through the efforts of the Bicentennial Committee and members of the Hebrew Congregation.
     The museum, a key part of the Synagogue, commemorates the history of the Jews of St. Thomas -- their past, their present and their future.
     Named for Elias J. Weibel, the general manager of H. Stern Jewelers in the Caribbean from 1980 until his death in 1991, it was brought into fruition thanks to the generous donations of Hans Stern and H. Stern Jewelers.
     "Johnny" Weibel was born in Rumania and escaped to South America with his parents after World War II. He was 12 years old. He went on to Panama as a young man, working with his cousin, and then emigrated to Israel where he began his career with H. Stern in 1966, just before the Six-Day War.
     He continued to work for H. Stern on St. Thomas in 1972 as assistant to the general manager. After a four-year stint as general manager in Europe for H. Stern, he moved his wife and young family to St. Thomas and remained general manager there until his death from cancer in November 1991 at age 56.
     In St. Thomas, Johnny was an active member of the Jewish community and the wider St. Thomas community. He was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Charlotte Amalie (his club bestowing upon him the prestigious Paul Harris Award for service and dedication), a member of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce and active in many other organizations.
     Johnny loved and cared about St. Thomas and its people. They returned those feelings. He was a strong, passionate man with a sense of fairness and justice -- as a manager of people and as a friend. He was a good husband and father, warm and loving. He loved life and all its blessings and gave with heart and mind in all his accomplishments.
     The museum is a fitting remembrance of a special man who is and will be dearly missed.