Shul vs. Shul Battle Over $7.4M Torah Bells Heads to Court

Touro and Shearith Israel War Over 18th Century Artifacts

Shul Fight: The proposed sale of this 18th century pair of silver Torah finials, or decorative bells, has sparked an ugly feud between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations.
david bazarsky
Shul Fight: The proposed sale of this 18th century pair of silver Torah finials, or decorative bells, has sparked an ugly feud between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations.

By JTA

Published August 13, 2013.
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Touro Synagogue and Congregation Shearith Israel are going forward with dueling lawsuits over a set of Torah scroll decorations.

Mediation efforts between leaders of the historic synagogues failed to head off the suit, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Touro, in Newport, R.I., had agreed to sell a set of 18th century Torah bells for $7.4 million to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, with the proceeds used to set up an endowment to care for the Touro building and keep a rabbi in residence, according to AP.

Shearith Israel, the New York City congregation that for nearly 200 years has served as the trustee for Touro, is objecting to the sale.

The museum has withdrawn its offer to purchase the bells created by Colonial silversmith Myer Myers, a Jewish contemporary of Paul Revere, until the dispute is resolved.

Shearith Israel is the first U.S. Jewish congregation. Touro is the country’s oldest synagogue building.


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