December 06, 2007

Today in Jewish History - Kislev 26

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In 1763, the Touro Synagogue was dedicated in Newport, Rhode Island. It is the oldest existing synagogue in the United States, founded by Spanish Portuguese families who came from Curacao, in the West Indies. The magnificent synagogue is built of brick imported from England, and stands at an acute angle to the street -- so that the Holy Ark faces toward Jerusalem. The synagogue is named after Abraham Touro, who left money in his will for the ongoing care of the synagogue. George Washington had issued a famous letter to the congregation promising religious freedom, and in 1982 the United States Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Touro Synagogue, to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Washington's birth.