(JNS.org) Talks between the historic Touro
Synagogue in Newport, RI, and a New York City synagogue that claims ownership
over the Touro Synagogue and its artifacts broke down this week after a U.S.
District Court judge declared the mediation failed, the Providence Journal reported.
Historic Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI. Credit: National Park Service.
According to the
Providence Journal, a dispute between
Congregation Jeshuat Israel, which uses the historic Touro Synagogue that was
built in 1763, and New York City’s Congregation Shearith Israel, which was
given the deed to the synagogue in the early 19th century when the original
Jewish community left, arose over plans to sell the synagogue’s 18th-century
finial bells to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for $7.4 million. Touro
Synagogue is the oldest synagogue building that is still standing in the U.S.
The bells, which
were designed in the mid-1700s by Myer Myers, adorn the handles of the Torah
scroll and are rung when the Torah is raised. The New York congregation opposed
the sale of the bells and claims that Congregation Jeshuat Israel has violated
its lease terms, which were established in the early 20th century when the
Newport Jewish community was revived.
Lawyers for each
of the synagogues told the Associated
Press that their lawsuits would proceed now that federal mediation has