The building of the Touro Synagogue between 1759 and 1763- in a soon to be independent United States of America - remains a bright chapter in a dark saga of religious persecution. The Touro Synagogue is a living symbol of America's refusal to travel the road of bigotry and persecution.

On March 5, 1946, President Harry Truman designated Touro Synagogue as a National Historic Site, a symbol of religious liberty.


On December 2, 1763, Isaac Tourso, a Dutch Jew, a young cantor- one who sings the music connected to the religious service and often leads the congregation in prayer, was appointed rabbi of the congregation, a post to hold for twenty years until his death on December 3, 1783. Isaac Tourso,.

Abraham Touro, Isaac's son died in 1822. He left money at his death for the restoration and preservation of the synagogue, Touro Jewish Synagogue Fund.

Judah Touro, Isaac's son who ded in 1854 established a fund to care for Newport's Jewish cemetery. He purchase some land nearby to be called Touro Park.

Interior of of Touro Synagogue  

Entrance to Underground Passage

A trapdoor and ladder led to a room hidden below the "bimah". There was no tunnel or door leading from any part of it to somewhere else.

According to Sephardic tradition, Spanish and Portuguese Jews kept such secret rooms in their synagogues to hide from the agents of the Inquisition.

Jacob Pollack Chandelier

Website for the Touro Synagogue