Betsy and Dick climbed Synagogue Hill and won a trivia contest, visiting ‘sandy’ congregations

By Betsy Frank

Betsy Frank is UHC para-rabbinic fellow and president.

As many of you know, Dick and I decamped to warmer places for the month of January.

We aren’t exactly snowbirds — one month is too long to be away. Nevertheless, we did enjoy our travels.

As in previous trips, we engaged in Jewish experiences in a variety of places on land and sea.

St. Thomas hosts a historic house of worship

One of the most interesting places we visited was the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Yes, the synagogue sits atop a steep hill. I have the t-shirt to prove it!

This synagogue has been in operation since the late 1700s. To quote from its website, “We are the oldest synagogue building in continuous use under the American flag; the second oldest in the Western Hemisphere — and only one of five synagogues in the world with sand on the floor.”

This synagogue is featured in Alice Morrison’s Marriage of Opposites. Although we have visited this synagogue once before, we continue to learn about its history.

Other experiences included leading services on the cruise ship and attending Shabbat services at the Sanibel Island congregation, which has decamped to the mainland as a result of Hurricane Ian.

Sanibel Island congregation survived disaster

This is Debbie and Don Breiters’s synagogue. Hurricane Ian failed to destroy the congregation, but did damage the building the congregation shared with a church.

Finally, we attended a wonderful scholar-in-residence session organized by Ayelet Tours. The scholar, Prof. Stephen Berk, lectured on a variety of topics, including the Yom Kippur War.

Does anyone know the name of the Jewish baseball player who wouldn’t play.a World Series game on Yom Kippur?

What a pleasure it was to meet Prof. Berk with a group of 40 others from around the country and Canada. Also …. our four-member team won the Jewish trivia contest!

Does anyone know the name of the Jewish baseball player who wouldn’t play.a World Series game on Yom Kippur? (Hint: Think “sandy” beaches).

Travel is a way to relax. But travel also allows us to experience our Judaism in a variety of settings.

Every setting was different and enjoyable, but home is always best!


Betsy Frank

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