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Hank Feuerzeig is 2003 'Person of the Year'

     Hank Feuerzeig, a man who has contributed in countless ways to the Hebrew Congregation and to the St. Thomas community for 31 years, has been named the Synagogue's "Person of the Year" for 2003.
     In a moving ceremony during the Erev Shabbat service April 11, Hank was extolled for his work on the board, for co-chairing two rabbinic searches, for heading the annual Friends drive since its inception and for serving as the Synagogue's unofficial in-house counsel.
     Marilyn Blackhall, a past recipient of the award, made the presentation, offering a wonderful epic poem about Hank's life and contributions.
     George Dudley, his law partner at Dudley, Topper and Feuerzeig, lauded Hank's virtues as a Territorial Court judge for 10 years, a past president of the V.I. Bar Association, an outstanding attorney and someone who has contributed greatly to the community. He called Hank one of his five "heroes."
     Donald Pomeranz, another previous recipient, read messages of congratulations from Hank's children, Paul and Darcy.
     Hank was the 21st congregant to be given this honor since Sisterhood started it in 1981. It was originally a "Woman of the Year" award but was changed in 1997 to "Person of the Year."
     Here is Marilyn Blackhall's tribute to Hank:
     Our recipient is a legend in this congregation today
     No matter what is asked he will find a way
     Committees, boards, special tasks and advice
     All with wisdom, sincerity and a touch of spice.
     He quietly listens and thinks everything through
     But if you're wordy or inappropriate… God help you
     With a few sparse words of brimstone and fire
     He'll put the conflict to rest… midst the muck and the mire.
     His spirit is feisty with ideas clear and precise
     He rarely speaks out unless thoughtful and concise
     With a force that is respected by one and all
     In this congregation he stands mighty and tall.
     So what are his achievements you might ask?
     Why in our sunlight does he gloriously bask
     Not for one year or two years or five years or ten
     But serving our congregation then, now and again
     Let's start from the beginning my dear friends
     To see the factual history upon which our story depends
     Rising from beginnings truly humble and poor
     With a brother, a single working mother and many a chore
     Much was expected of him to keep the household going
     But scholarly achievement insisted upon while he was growing
     His intensity and brilliance were clear as a bell
     And he rose to the occasion working his tail off to excel
     Our gallant fighter met the demands put upon him
     Without halting or wavering or stopping on a whim
     With the same lively nature he reveals today, without a doubt
     Tough work, rigorous expectations … that's what he's always been about
     In his modest family there wasn't enough money for college
     So he became an Evans Scholar to gain higher knowledge
     Chick Evans a well-known golfer with money and a heart
     Set up a scholarship for needy golf caddies to give them a start
     It gave our recipient full tuition and room and board
     For a college degree he otherwise couldn't afford.
      It doesn't stop there, my friends, because then he met a jewel
      They married in 1967 and she put him through law school.
     A charming young wife … so tender, fulfilling and sweet
     Yet, living the same modest life, struggling to make ends meet.
     You know, I think the time has finally come to expose the mystery for all to see
     Hank Feuerzeig is our person of the year A great choice don't you agree
     But the story goes on, because there's so much more to tell
     So hold your applause, and I promise you shortly we can ALL qvell
     And Hank please enjoy…As we continue with your most interesting life-story
     How you came to serve congregation and community with triumph and glory
     Now folks we must get them to this Caribbean border
     With a cute little boy child and a tiny baby daughter.
     This is how the thought process went:
     Let's go to St. Thomas they said and chill for a couple of years
     And then we'll settle down and face real living amongst our peers
     A short stint in paradise before the rigors of actual adult life
     To enjoy a carefree existence without any strife
     We'll then go back and begin what we started
     We just need a break, something easy and lighthearted.
     But 31 years later they are still here in all their splendor
     Prominent, respected, successful…. What a life agenda
     Hank began with the AG's office and then in his own law firm
     His legal ability noticed by many in just a short term
     He was only 37 and here on St. Thomas for a short five years
     When Gov King appointed him to the bench, amidst shouts and cheers
     Shortly thereafter, Judge Feuerzeig became a member of the Synagogue Board
     Where we served together as the younger generation, brandishing plowshare and sword.
     With more modern ideas, philosophies, programs and dreams
     That we sought to initiate… Gosh, those new fangled schemes.
     Amidst our more conservative elders, it was difficult to have a say
     To move them towards a democratic approach…to get our way.
     For example: We wanted camp scholarship programs for our children to enjoy
     To reinforce their Judaism in ways that would bring them joy
     Things that today would sound logical and natural to do
     Were disagreed with and brought clamor and much ado
     Trips to Israel for the youngsters to experience their ancestry
     Our recipient fought hard for these ideas that were contrary
     He worked very diligently as the board's Scholarship Chair
     Making sound decisions that were both generous and fair
     Balancing budgetary constraints with our children's needs
     He encouraged their Judaism by providing the means to plant Jewish seeds.
     And after his board term of 6 years expired
     He still remained active…. never to be retired
     He was always there.. for us… no matter what the task
     Do you need something from Hank? … Well just ask
     From financial contributions, wise counsel, free legal work, too
     He was a valuable asset and always true blue
     Later on when the Synagogue constitution allowed him to serve once more
     He was back on the Synagogue Board for 6 years, making prudent motions from the floor
     We served together every step of the way
     So you can believe everything I have to say
     This time there were other tasks for which we put our heads on his shoulder
     He was becoming a congregation elder, both wiser and older
     Rabbinic Search arose as a difficult reality for us to undertake
     And we served as Co-chairs of the committee… without taking a break
     Interviewing 21 Rabbis was a long arduous process of labor and love
     And Hank's efforts were beyond the call of duty, …yes way above.
      Bradd Boxman became our Rabbi, a young man with zeal
     And a Jewish education for Hank…. finally had appeal
     He studied with Bradd for all the years he was our Rabbi here
     Learning Hebrew and philosophy, making Hank's heritage come clear
     Once more Hank served in the role of
     Rabbinic Search Committee co- chairing
     With Mina, this time, and once again giving hours and hours of work and diligent caring.
     I could go on and on in ways Hank has served our needs
     Giving of himself totally in all these deeds
     Serving on our Board for over 12 years like, well…. a saint
     Chairing committees without a word of complaint
     Free Legal work to the Synagogue and private counsel to a member
     There are so many things, that we can all remember
     And while doing this, maintaining an illustrious legal career
     With financial generosity and kindness we can all revere
     Never forgetting how he climbed the ladder of success, my friends
     Always giving to others so they could achieve their ends .
     It's great to give…. he feels, deep down in his soul
     But to be able to give back is truly his goal.
     A Founding member of the Community Foundation, as well
      My goodness there really continues to be too much to tell.
     But lest we forget to say what a dresser this guy is with his ties of many colors
     Almost Biblical in nature reminding us of others
     What would Joseph have thought if he saw our Person of the year
     Maybe….."A cool, stylish dresser that is quite clear."
     Hank Feuerzeig you're splendid, you're dynamic you're grand
     A man for all seasons shining brightly in this Caribbean land
     I could go on all night because you are truly a treasure
     And talking about you gives me great pleasure
     But we must continue on with our service tonight
     Honoring our shining star so vibrant and bright
     So let me conclude now by saying:
     We love you; we respect you; we think you're the best
     And to have you as part of our congregation makes us feel truly blessed.
     Kol Hakavode

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