Touro Synagogue Newport, RI

Touro Synagogue Interior Newport, RI
Touro Synagogue Interior Newport, RI

As the oldest synagogue in the United States, Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI occupies a special place in our nation’s history as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans.  It stands as a living testimony to the original families from Barbados who arrived in Newport in the mid 17th century, whose ancestors had fled the Inquisitions of Spain and Portugal and to all who followed them.  Situated atop a hill, close to the city center and filled with glass, this beacon of religious acceptance remains virtually unchanged since its dedication in 1763.  

While obstacles to total freedom and acceptance in the New World existed for many, including the Jewish inhabitants of Newport, there is no question these early residents felt a level of comfort they had not experienced in the past.  No words better exemplify their gratitude than those of mid 18th century congregation warden Moses Seixas.  He wrote to
President George Washington in 1790: “Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People ~~ a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance ~~ but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: ~~ deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine.”


Place(s): Rhode Island,Barbados
Year: 1658

– Meryle Cawley

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant