Skip To Content
We’ve Taken Down the Forward Paywall: An Open Letter to Our ReadersRead Now
Fast Forward

Oldest Congregation Appeals Decision In $7M Shul vs. Shul Court Fight

The congregation that worships in America’s oldest synagogue building asked a federal court for a rehearing of the case that gave control of its pricey artifacts to the building’s historic trustees.

Lawyers for Congregation Jeshuat Israel, which meets in the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, said the court’s decision last month giving control of Touro to Manhattan’s Shearith Israel ignored state law and made constitutional errors.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston also gave the Manhattan synagogue ownership of $7.4 million silver Torah ornaments called rimonim that the Newport congregation had hoped to sell to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to build an endowment.

“In light of the panel’s errors, which significantly alter constitutional jurisprudence, and the importance of Touro, an American icon, this case strongly merits rehearing,” lawyers for Jeshuat Israel wrote in their filing with the court on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

The filing said the court’s ruling conflicts with past decisions on church property disputes and ignores state law, as well as findings by the Rhode Island state attorney general that the Touro Synagogue was held in trust for the benefit of the Newport Jewish community, according to AP.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.