A Genesis of Religious Freedom: The Story of the Jews of Newport, RI and Touro Synagogue
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In A Genesis of Religious Freedom: The Story of the Jews of Newport, RI and Touro Synagogue, Dr. Melvin I. Urofsky recounts the unique history of Jewish settlers in Rhode Island - the first colony to grant its citizens freedom to worship in the manner of their choosing. Drawn to the promise that in Roger Williams,Rhode Island colony none shall be disturbed in their worship, Newport's Sephardic Jewish settlers were innovators, helping lead the town into its economic Golden Age. It was to the Newport Jewish community that George Washington wrote his powerful Letter to the Hebrew Congregation in 1790, promising that the U. S. government would give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance. Newport's diversity and religious tolerance enabled this community to thrive and, in 1763, to dedicate a synagogue America's oldest standing synagogue and a National Historic Site. Now celebrating the 250th anniversary of its dedication, Touro Synagogue remains home to an active Jewish congregation continuing in the spiritual tradition of Newport's early settlers. Written for a general audience of all ages, in a captivating and easy-to-read format, Urofsky explores the richness of this ethnic community in a cosmopolitan New England seaport. Full-color illustrations illuminate participation in political, social, economic and civil life. The book provides readers of all religions with insights into an often overlooked, important and inspiring aspect of American history.