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April 12, 1996 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-04-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

DAVID I-ISRMELIN WAS LOOKING FOR MAX SOSINI

HE FOUND HIM LIVING AT THE
FLEISCHMAN RESIDENCE!

The Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I.

Oldest Synagogue
Hosted First President

AKA - 17IS SUNSIIINS BOYS"'

Why don't you come and join Max for:

Three Kosher Meals Daily
Medication Assistance
Around The Clock Security
Health Clinic
Respite and Guest Rooms Available

GABRIEL LEVENSON SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

Daily Shabbat and Holiday Services in our Synagogue
Daytime and Evening Activities
Transportation, Laundry, Housekeeping
Registered Nurse & Personal Care Assistance
Nosh Nook, Gift Shop, Beauty/Barber Shop

For More Information Please Contact

KAKI K PROVIZER

ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR/DIRECTOR OF RESIDENT SERVICES
FLEISCHMAN RESIDENCE/BLUMBERG PLAZA
6710 W. MAPLE ROAD, WEST BLOOMTIELD, (810) 661-2999
(LOCATED ON THE JEWISH COMMUNTTY CAMPUS)

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354-5959

etaways out of the city to
a historic shrine are often
within easy reach.
Just one year after his
triumphal inauguration, George
Washington made the long, five-
day journey from New York City,
then the capital of the new nation,
to Newport, at that time the joint
capital of Rhode Island, together
with Providence. Courting the
proud citizens of Newport, still
wary of the sovereignty of a strong,
central government, the president
made the special gestuure of at-
tending Sabbath services at New-
port's Touro Synagogue, whose
congregants ranked among the
wealthiest and most influential
people in town.
On the occasion of his visit,
President Washington was pre-
sented with a letter addressed to
him by Moses Seixas, the syna-
gogue warden. Mr. Seixas was a
descendant of one of the Sephardic
families that had founded the con-
gregation.
A few days later, President
Washington responded, repeating
the guarantee of religious liberty.
Dr. Chaim Shapiro, rabbi of Touro
for the past decade, shows visitors
a facsimile of Washington's letter
which is displayed on the syna-
gogue's west wall.
Indeed, one of the most impor-
tant events in the synagogue's cal- .
endar is the annual ceremony of
reading the Seixas and Washing-
ton letters. As Rabbi Shapiro says,
"It was to congregants of the old-
est Jewish house of worship in the
United States that George Wash-
ington addressed the letter from
which the Bill of Rights is derived."
The annual reading, usually
held in mid-August, is followed by
a tour of the synagogue; in fact,
the rabbi himself conducts Sun-
day afternoon tours throughout
the year.
The neo-classic building was de-
clared a national historic site by
President Harry Truman in 1946;

G

'

but even at the time of its dedica-
tion in 1763, it was recognized as
a masterpiece.
Peter Harrison, the dean of
Colonial architects, had volun-
teered to design the building. The
town newspaper, the Newport
Mercury, reported on his handi-
work in these words: "... a edifice
the most perfect of the Temple
kind perhaps in America, and
splendidly illuminated, could not
but raise in the mind a faint idea
of the majesty and grandeur of the
ancient Jewish worship men-
tioned in Scripture."
Considered by some architec-
tural historians to be Mr. Harri-
son's masterpiece, the synagogue
is designed in the so-called Geor-
gian style of the period, but mod-
ified to accommodate the
Sephardic ritual.
As was the custom of Sephardic
Jews, the building was inconspic-
uously placed on a quiet street. It c-:\
stands diagonally on a small plot
so that worshippers, rising before
the Holy Ark, face eastward to-
wards Jerusalem.
The rigorously plain brick ex-
terior gives no hint of the richness
within. Though abundantly fur-
nished, the sanctuary is so well-
proportioned that it gives an airy,
even lofty, impression.
There are 24 columns in the
sanctuary, each made of a single,
solid tree trunk. Twelve Ionic, rep-
resenting the 12 tribes of ancient
Israel, support the women's
gallery.
Above these rise 12 Corinthian
columns, supporting a domed ceil-
ing — suspended from which are
five massive, brass candelabra,
still lit by candles, donated soon
after the synagogue's inaugura-
tion by such prominent figures in
both the congregation and the
larger Newport community as

Aaron Lopez.
He was called the Merchant
Prince of New England, at a time
when Newport, the center of the

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