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“Don't Miss It” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Touro Synagogue

Touro Synagogue
85 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840
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Ranked #8 of 62 Attractions in Newport
Type: Religious Sites, Historic Sites, Cultural
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Attraction details
Owner description: Dedicated in 1762, this is the oldest synagogue in the United States.
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
“Don't Miss It”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2013

Several people recommended this tour and it did not disappoint. The guide was excellent and it was very interesting. The letter from our first President should instill pride in us all and in a world with a lot of hatred, is especially resounding. Really a nice visit.

Visited October 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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189 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Brooklyn, New York
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
20 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Absolutely Wonderful”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2013

The architecture is magnificent. The information provided and the follow-up question and answer period gave an excellent history of not only Newport, but the history of what happened in Europe and the Carribean prior to Jewish settlers arriving. This is a very worthwhile stop.

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dover, New Hampshire
Top Contributor
439 reviews 439 reviews
193 attraction reviews
Reviews in 165 cities Reviews in 165 cities
1,127 helpful votes 1,127 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2013

Although not of the Jewish faith, a friend and I decided to tour Touro Synagogue National Historic Site for its historic, architectural, and cultural/religious significance in American history.

The congregation was founded in 1658 by the descendants of Jewish families who fled the Inquisitions in Spain and Portugal and who themselves left the Caribbean seeking the greater religious tolerance that Rhode Island offered.

Touro Synagogue was designed by noted British Colonial era architect and Rhode Island resident Peter Harrison and is considered his most notable work. Construction began in 1959.

Touro was dedicated in 1763, making it one of the ten most architecturally distinguished buildings of 18th century British Colonial America, and it's the most historically significant Jewish building in the United States.

The building faces east toward Jerusalem. The ark containing the Torah is on the east wall; above it is a mural representing the Ten Commandments in Hebrew.

In his famous letter to the "Hebrew congregation at Newport," written in 1790, President George Washington pledged that our new nation would give "to bigotry no sanction and to persecution no assistance."

Touro Synagogue stands as a symbol of religious freedom under the First Amendment for all Americans.

A legend exists that the trap door under the tebah (bimah) was used while the synagogue was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Touro was designated a National Historic Site in 1946.

The Ambassador John L. Loeb Jr. Visitors Center has exhibits to explore the history of Newport's early Jewish community and the origins of First Amendment rights. It is also has the ticketing desk for the 30-minute tours of Touro. The National Parks Passport Stamp Station is at the ticket desk.

We found the tour guide to be well informed. We enjoyed our visit.

The garden outside was still in bloom during our visit.

Visited November 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Old synagogue”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2013

Old world, Europeanesque look. Felt great to be in the oldst synagogue in North America. Went back for erev Rosh Hashonah services, What an experience!

Visited September 2013
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New York, USA
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Must See”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 11, 2013

I always knew that this was the oldest synagogue in the U.S., but I didn't realize how important a symbol it was! Rhode Island was the last state to sign the Declaration of Independence but the first to sign the Bill of Rights. All to ensure religious freedom. This synagogue welcomed George Washington when he came for support of his Declaration. You are even given a copy of the famed letter he wrote to the congregation. I was there in October when it was quiet, so we had a private tour with Linda, a most knowledgeable, and passionate guide. It was awesome.

Visited October 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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