Priors give $100,000 challenge gift for restoration

     The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas is facing a major challenge - a $100,000 challenge.
     Neil and Trudie Prior have pledged that amount to the Campaign to Preserve the St. Thomas Synagogue, but to receive their gift, the Congregation must raise a matching amount by Dec. 31, 2000. Only new gifts will count toward the challenge grant.
     "In effect this doubles the value of every new Campaign gift or pledge," said Donald Pomeranz, a past president of the Congregation and head of the Campaign Committee. "I feel confident we will rise to the Priors' challenge."
     The comprehensive restoration project, which began in mid-1999, is now projected to cost $450,000. To date $225,000 has been received or pledged.
     "The Priors' gift, with its match, will bring us very close to our goal," Pomeranz said, offering special thanks to Trudie Prior, now the Congregation's president, and Neil Prior, president and CEO of Atlantic Tele-Network and an active member of the Congregation.
     The restoration of the 167-year-old Synagogue building - a National Historic Landmark and a major attraction in downtown Charlotte Amalie for visitors of all faiths - is the most important capital project to be undertaken by this generation of the Hebrew Congregation.
     "Though we all loved the exposed stone and rubble walls, we recognized that the experts were right - if we did not restore the walls to the original design, we would risk the collapse of the entire structure," Pomeranz said. "With new plaster walls, new electrical wiring for lights and fans, and new shutters and doors, our beautiful Synagogue will be in prime form for the new millennium and for generations to come."
     Some dedicated items are still available for those who wish to have their donations go toward specific needs. Among the items remaining for dedication are the entry porch ($20,000) and several individual walls ($10,000 each). Donations and dedications of $1,000 or more will be recognized with a donor tablet in etched glass in the Weibel Museum.
     For more information on the Campaign, call the Synagogue at 340-774-4312 or e-mail us at
     Checks may be sent to:
     Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas
     PO Box 266
     St. Thomas, USVI 00802