Something Incredibly Ancient And Unique Is Hiding Right Here In Rhode Island
It is no secret that the entire state of Rhode Island buzzes with history. From participating in major colonial era events to being home to the Industrial Revolution, so many monumental things have occurred the in state. The smallest state has likewise been one of the most revolutionary in its efforts towards religious freedom. Little Rhody is even home to the nation’s first synagogue known as Touro Synagogue!
Touro Synagogue's history is as magnificent as its beautiful building. Construction began in 1759. With financial support from several congregations and private donations, the synagogue was completed in 1763.
The first congregation to worship at the synagogue was known as the Congregation Jeshuat Israel. They consisted of Jewish residents of Newport who grew in population and was in need of a house of worship.
The lovely building was designed by a British American merchant named Peter Harrison. This former Newport resident was self taught in architecture. Prior to the synagogue, Harrison constructed Redwood Library in Newport and King's Chapel in Boston.
Harrison would later complete the Brick Market in Newport and other historically significant buildings throughout New England. Inspiration for the exterior design of the synagogue came from Palladian style architecture.
The magnificent interior design was heavily influenced by the Jewish community of Newport. Isaac Touro in particular, the synagogue's Hazaan, or prayer leader, offered much input into the design.
The synagogue has overcome much turbulence over the years. Most notably was during the British occupation of Newport during the Revolutionary War. Many Jewish families fled the area fearing persecution, and while many buildings were burned down, the synagogue's usefulness as a hospital for British soldiers kept it intact during the war. The Jewish community would eventually return and reclaim Touro Synagogue as a house of worship after the war.
The synagogue remains an active place of worship today and is toured by thousands each year! You can visit this breathtaking National Historic Site on Touro Street in Newport!
Can you think of any other equally amazing historic sites in Little Rhody?
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