Hurricane hits historic temple

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The hurricane killed eight people, wounded about 185 and destroyed or damaged 80 percent of the houses on the island.

Among the displaced is the Reform temple's rabbi, Bradd Boxman, whose home was "virtually demolished," the Reform movement's Union of American Hebrew Congregations said in a statement.

"We're lucky to be alive," Linda Boxman, the wife of the rabbi, said in a telephone interview from Florida, where they had been airlifted.

The rabbi is scheduled to head back to St. Thomas by Friday, according to a spokeswoman for the EHL Consulting Group, a Philadelphia firm that is handling public relations for the community's bicentennial.

In what he called "a special message to the members of Jewish communities throughout North America," Boxman said, "Hopefully, we will all resume normal activity in relatively short order."

The Hebrew Congregation synagogue building is believed to be the oldest in continuous use under the U.S. flag.

The UAHC is raising emergency funds for the St. Thomas community. Contributions can be sent to: UAHC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, 838 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10021.