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The Gonsa Geshicte (the whole story) about the fire near the Synagogue
by Marilyn Blackhall

     On Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, just after noon there was a large fire in an abandoned house up the hill and behind the Synagogue. It burned for quite a while creating large amounts of smoke and was dangerously close to our building. From the Rabbi’s office we were not more than about 10 feet from the burning building and the firefighters who worked diligently for over an hour to put out the flames.
      Linda Mueller saw the smoke from Blackbeards, promptly called Trudie Prior and Penny Feuerzeig who then reached Nina and me on our cell phones as we were still in town. We had left the Synagogue only a short while ago having organized Shabbat morning services in the Rabbi’s absence. We called 911 and ran up to the Synagogue to assess the danger and see what needed to be done. The firefighters had just arrived as others had called them as well. Meanwhile Penny and Trudie maintained telephone communications amongst everyone from home.
     We contacted Michael to return to the Synagogue with keys and Tina Bryan our office manager was also called. We thought Mina was off island for the day, but having heard about the fire, she came to the Synagogue at about the same time as Michael and Tina.
     Linda and a visiting cruise ship friend, Mina, Tina and Tina’s husband who accompanied her, Michael, Robert Ba-at, Nina and I removed the Torahs from the ark and brought them to Lilienfeld House. The silver ornaments from the Torahs were wrapped by Mina and locked in the gift shop for extra security. We also removed a variety of other historic items from the museum as well as the office computers. As a further precautionary measure Michael remained on the premises for a while to make certain that no problems reoccurred. Many, many thanks to all who helped or were poised to come and help, if necessary.
     We were amazingly fortunate as the wind seemed to be in our favor, blowing the smoke away from the Synagogue. Just a small change in wind direction could have been disastrous for us.
     We checked with Herb Horwitz, an experienced insurance adjuster, both before and after the fire. So far it does not seem as though we sustained any noticeable damage. We have been instructed by Herb, however, to check our wiring and the back of the building in case there is damage that was not obvious at the time.
     There are abandoned properties behind the Synagogue that are occupied by supposedly homeless drug abusers. The Rabbi has been cautioning us about the potential dangers and we began to check ownership of the buildings a while ago as well as to discuss actions the congregation might take. Last night at its monthly meeting, the Synagogue’s Executive Committee appointed a small task force which will, hopefully, include neighbors with similar concerns to see if we can either find a way to purchase these properties or arrange to have them cared for by their owners so that they are no longer a threat to the neighborhood.

Annual meeting is April 28
   Please mark your calendars and plan to be at Lillienfeld House at 5:30 p.m. April 28 for the Congregation's annual meeting. It's important! And we're serving dinner afterwards.
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2011-04-14 16:04:05
Third Jazz Jam is April 10 at Coral World
   Wind up your weekend on a musical note! It's time for the third annual JAZZ JAM, an evening of great music hosted by the St. Thomas Synagogue at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Coral World.
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2011-04-01 13:35:06
The Gonsa Geshicte (the whole story) about the fire near the Synagogue
   On Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011, just after noon there was a large fire in an abandoned house up the hill and behind the Synagogue. It threatened, but did not damage, the Synagogue -- but caused some scary moments.
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2011-01-11 14:47:14
A beary good Sisterhood gatheringA bevy of bears
   A handful of Sisterhood members braved the heavy rains Saturday to stuff and sew toy bears to give out to congregants and others who take ill.
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2010-06-21 11:57:48
Second Jazz Jam is a mellow delightHarvey Werbel
   We had great music under the stars at Coral World on Saturday night, May 8, with a wonderful crowd, yummy nibbles and a lovely vibe. To see Glenda Werbel's album of photos, please click here.
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2010-04-28 13:51:58
Congregation's American Airlines raffle benefits Haiti relief efforts
   And the lucky winner is....Marty Olsen, who works at Jen's Deli and now has two round-trip tickets from American Airlines to the destination of his choice in the continental U.S., Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or the Caribbean.
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2010-02-05 10:50:53
'Stepping Stones to a Jewish Me'
   Rabbi Moch will offer a new learning opportunity, both for Jews and non-Jews, members and non-members, over 18 Thursday evenings this year.
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2009-10-21 16:16:05
Shabbaton focuses on mind-body-spirit
   What an incredible day of spiritual awakening, self-discovery and bonding in friendship. It doesn't seem possible that so much could be accomplished in just one day, but it was.
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2009-09-15 12:12:47
Bar Mitzvah service 'exceeded our expectations'Richard Weisgold with Rabbi Moch
   The Synagogue was beautiful but Rabbi Moch's service was the highlight of Richard Weisgold's Bar Mitzvah.
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2009-07-02 17:52:34
Danielle Stillman ordained as a RabbiRabbi Danielle Stillman
   Mazal tov to St. John congregants Andy and Joy Stillman on the ordination of their daughter Danielle as a Reconstructionist Rabbi.
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2009-06-10 15:38:49
Jazz Jam left the crowd totally jazzedHarvey Werbel at the keys
   Great music, great setting, great spirit, great fun! That sums up the first annual Jazz Jam sponsored by the Hebrew Congregation on Saturday night, May 30, at Coral World.
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2009-05-30 14:09:01
Sweet memories of an island Bar Mitzvah
   'Blake's Bar Mitzvah service was like no other we have ever experienced. It was personal, intimate, welcoming and relaxed,' wrote the parents of a recent Bar Mitzvah.
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2009-04-29 13:52:24
Catholic Charities gets donation for food
   Catholic Charities says thanks for a recent donation to Bethlehem House from Mazon contributions to the Synagogue.
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2009-02-20 15:36:47
Seven students honored at MLK service
   A packed Synagogue celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Friday's Shabbat service by honoring seven students whose lives exemplify the values Dr. King espoused.
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2009-01-20 14:38:51
MLK service honors seven studentsWesley S. Williams Jr.
   The Hebrew Congregation's annual Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat service honoring outstanding high school students will be held Friday, Jan. 16, at 6:30 p.m.
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2009-01-13 15:59:36
'The Perfect Prayer'Linda Starr reads to pajama-clad youngsters
   It was the perfect prayer, project and party for five youngsters in our Religious School and their parents, all decked out in their pj's.
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2008-11-19 16:27:34
New Jersey Bar Mitzvah helps St. Thomas schoolRyan and Ms. Wilson
   Ryan Siegel celebrated his becoming a Bar Mitzvah in the historic St. Thomas Synagogue -- but with a very special mitzvah project.
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2008-11-19 16:05:49

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