A man stands outside a destroyed home in this aerial photo from a Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey surveying the aftermath from Hurricane Maria in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands Sept. 21, 2017. (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)
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When last I spoke with Rabbi Michael Feshbach — who a few months ago traded the leadership of Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Md., for a historic synagogue in the U.S. Virgin Islands — he had just survived Hurricane Irma.

Then came Hurricane Maria. That storm brought even more damaging wind and rain, but in its wake came something else.

"I've never felt more of a sense of love and support," Rabbi Feshbach said Monday over a scratchy cellphone line.

As word got out the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas had been more affected by Maria than by Irma, members of synagogues across the United States chimed in on Facebook with offers to help.

"When we have been able to read those messages, they have been overwhelming expressions of love and concern, and overwhelming offers of material aid," Rabbi Feshbach said.

The Hebrew Congregation is the second-oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere and the oldest in continuous use under the American flag.

"This is in some ways a unique congregation," Rabbi Feshbach said. "In many ways it has a partnership with the entire Jewish community of the hemisphere."

The rabbi posted on Facebook a list of items the islanders are in need of, including such things as Neosporin, plastic garbage bags, dehumidifiers and generators. Friends and acquaintances have been posting how best to gather and ship them. "There are three kids who want to help us as part of their bar or bat mitzvah projects," Rabbi Feshbach said.

One New York City man, Andrew Kavesh, is hoping the island's airport will be open by Friday so he can mark the high holidays there. He already has a ticket on American Airlines.

"I'm thinking about bringing some babka, which is a Jewish delicacy, some bagels and cream cheese, and depending on if I can refrigerate it, some things like whitefish and lox," Andrew told me on the phone. "They've had it so rough down there. I thought this would be a nice way to break the fast."

It does seem as if the trials of Job are being visited on the Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas. "Certainly Maria did more damage in the synagogue," Rabbi Feshbach said. "It was not a direct hit, but it was a tremendous amount of water. And the two right after each other were very challenging."

While the ark holding the synagogue's historic Torah scrolls got wet, the plastic-wrapped scrolls inside were undamaged.

Not so the congregation's prayer books. "All of our high holiday prayer books were either soaked or completely ruined," Rabbi Feshbach said.

On the bright side: He had planned to replace them with a newer edition anyway.

A government-imposed curfew meant Rabbi Feshbach had to rejigger the timing of Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat services. Next up is Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Feshbach said he has appealed to the island's leadership for two things: "I have asked for a curfew exemption until 10 p.m. this Friday night for Yom Kippur, and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for Saturday, the day of Yom Kippur. Whether we will get it or not, I do not know."

It's been a time for improvisation. When the rabbi's wife, Julie Novick, ran out of propane half way through cooking some frozen chicken, she gathered wood to start a fire. Their daughter, Talia, has been deputized as the temple's cantor.

"This is a real special place," Rabbi Feshbach said. "It will be a special place again. And my hope and prayer is that should the need ever arise, we will be in a position to lend a helping hand to someone else."

Of the many hardships in the U.S. Virgin Islands right now, Rabbi Feshbach is feeling one in particular: He hasn't been able to follow his beloved Nationals.

Before hanging up, I told him Bryce Harper is expected back any day now.

"Hallelujah," Rabbi Feshbach said.

Calling all cars

My recent mention of a short documentary about the District's call boxes prompted a memory from reader Sharon Korody.

She lives in Bethany Beach, Del., now but in 1969 she was a 24-year-old public health nurse working a new job in Southwest Washington.

"One day we were given huge call box keys because the area was getting more dangerous," Sharon wrote. "We were told we should always be aware of where the call boxes were. I looked at that key and knew this job was short lived."

Twitter: @johnkelly

For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.