First Congregation Sons of Israel celebrated Hanukkah with the traditional Latke Party.
Trying to recover from the damage the historic synagogue, located on Cordova Street, suffered when Hurricane Matthew flooded St. Augustine in October, the congregation has set up a gofundme page with a goal of $100,000. Thus far more than $80,000 has been raised.
Below is a history of the synagogue authored by Karen Stern. Information on how to support the congregation in its restoration efforts is available at the bottom of this story.
The photos here, taken at the Latke Party, are by Heather Naughton, also a member of the congregation.
OLDEST SYNAGOGUE IN CITY
By KAREN STERN
First Congregation Sons of Israel is the oldest synagogue in the Nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida. The beautiful stained glass windows are over 140 years old; the Torahs are over 150 years old. The building was opened for its first service in March 1924 after decades of meeting in private homes. The Congregation has been active continuously since their arrival from Europe in the 1800s. Restoration plans were in the process when Hurricane Matthew struck on October 7, 2016, causing extensive damage to the sanctuary. I am the Treasurer of the Congregation Board and a member of the Congregation for over 30 years, and have been involved extensively in restoration plans. Because there is not adequate insurance coverage, the Board of Trustees needs help in restoring and repairing damage to this historic building so that we can reopen the sanctuary for services. The storm flooded the sanctuary causing the HVAC system to fail, ruined prayer books, damaged the office and its equipment, and caused the shut down of the sanctuary for the first time in 92 years. We are currently working with a professional remediation company to address the water damage. We need to begin repairs and replacement of the damaged and lost items right away so that we can reopen the sanctuary for full services. There are 4th and 5th generation descendents of the Congregation Founders who continue as members, many of whom have suffered personal loss during this devastating storm. Having their spiritual home restored would bring stability and continuity to their lives. We would appreciate your help to make our spiritual home whole again.
To donate go to https://www.gofundme.com/historic-synagogue-restoration-2ugza8c