Ceremonies: Touro Synagogue
By 1758 Newport's Jewish community had grown in size to need a place of worship. The congregation engaged Peter Harrison of Newport to design the synagogue. It would be the first in America. In 1790, After Rhode Island had joined the United States by ratifying the Constitution, Washington chose to visit Newport in support of the new Bill of Rights. The synagogue's warden wrote to George Washington wishing him well and welcoming him. Washington replied in a letter:
"... the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. ... May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy."
— Letter of George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island
I had the pleasure of photographing a ceremony here. Stepping inside, you can truly feel the ages of Newport's history and the community built around the synagogue. The interior has been carefully restored and scrupulously maintained. It's a unique place to photograph in, and I highly recommend a visit when you're in Newport to learn it's rich history.
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