Brandeis, Louis D.
Lehman, Herbert H.
Levy, Uriah P.
Magnes, Judah L.
Santangel, Luis de
Seixas, Gershom M.
Singer, Isaac B.
Straus, Isidor & Ida
Torres, Luis de
by Victor Ries (1977), Touro Synagogue, National Historic
31, 1947, the National Park Service of the United States Department
of the Interior unveiled a bronze tablet designating the Touro
Synagogue of Newport, Rhode Island as a National Historic Shrine.
This handsome colonial building is the oldest standing synagogue
in the United States. It was designed by Peter Harrison, who combined
his Georgian Colonial style with the traditional synagogue architecture
of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. The Reverend Ezra Styles described
the building as "the most perfect of the Temple kind perhaps in
America," when he attended its dedication in 1763.
Washington and Truman
George Washington visited Newport on August 17, 1790 when he was
presented with a letter from Moses Seixas, President of the Congregation,
extolling the new government, "which to bigotry gives no sanction,
to persecution no assistance." In his reply, Washington repeated
this moving phrase, which has been credited to him ever since.
- Truman - wrote to the Congregation in 1947: "The setting apart
of this historic shrine as a national monument is symbolic of
our tradition of freedom, which has inspired men and women of
every creed, race and ancestry to contribute their highest gifts
to the development of our national culture."
Touro (1775-1854) and the Touro Family
native of Holland, was appointed Hazan (e.g. Minister) of Yeshuat
Israel Congregation, even before construction began in 1759. He
served as spiritual leader until the British occupied Newport
in December 1776, after which most of the Jews left, relinquishing
much of their wealth. Touro officiated briefly in Jamaica, until
his death in 1784.
son, Judah, was born on June 16, 1775 and raised by his uncle
in Boston. In 1801, Judah sought his fortune in New Orleans, where
he prospered as a merchant. He served as a volunteer in the American
Army at the Battle of New Orleans (1815), where he was severely
wounded. Judah Touro's real claim to fame was the generosity of
the bequests made in his will. He donated a total of $143,000
to congregations, schools, and other Jewish institutions in seventeen
cities throughout America, including $10,000 to the Congregation
in Newport, henceforth known as the Touro Synagogue. Gifts to
non-Jewish institutions in New Orleans, Boston and Newport totaled
an additional $153,000. Another bequest, from his brother, Abraham,
was used to erect Touro Synagogue's front gate in 1843.
Here to Take Touro Synagogue Quiz
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