Touro Synagogue
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Time Period
Jews from Spanish and Portuguese descent first arrived in Newport, R.I., from Barbados in the 1600s. As the community grew, Congregation Jeshuat Israel hired noted self-taught architect Peter Harrison to design a house of worship for them. The building was dedicated on Hanukkah in 1763, making it the oldest dedicated synagogue in America (Mikveh Israel existed first, but did not become a synagogue until 1782).

It became known as Touro Synagogue in the 19th century, in honor of Newport philanthropists Abraham and Judah Touro.

Regarded as one of the most architecturally distinguished buildings of the 18th century, Touro Synagogue was designated as a National Historic Site in 1946. Toured by more than 30,000 visitors a year, the synagogue remains an active house of worship, with some 125 member families. Among its prized possessions is a letter praising pluralism from George Washington to the Jews of Newport.
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Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
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Touro Synagogue- Flickr- photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Touro Synagogue interior- Wikimedia Commons- photo by S.d.touro (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Judah Touro portrait- Internet Archive- from Reminiscences of Newport by George Champlin Mason

Touro Synagogue- Wikimedia Commons- National Park Service photo

Touro Synagogue and Burying Ground- National Archives and Records Administration
Web Source(s)
Touro Synagogue website
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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