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Colonial Jewish Burial Ground


This burial ground was established in 1677 and expanded 1768 to serve the Jewish community that arrived 1658c.  The majority of the congregation originated in Spain and Portugal and many spent time in Amsterdam or the Caribbean before arriving in Newport.

Restoration work has taken place on stones and the site in 1822, 1843 (gate, fence designed by Isaiah Rogers), 1889, 1898, 1940's, 1960's, 1986 (ledger stones raised from ground, some stones encapsulated); small plaques ca. 1960, 1940, or 1898.  Forty-two stones currently exists on the site

Longfellow visited the site on July 9, 1852 and was inspired to write poem about the burial ground. The site is located at the intersection of Bellevue Ave, Kay St, and Touro St. across from the Hotel Viking.

Use this link for more information about Longfellow and Newport's Jewish Colonial Burial Ground

Use this link for more information about Emma Lazarus and Newport's Jewish Colonial Burial Ground

Use this link to learn more about the stone gate and fencing.

 


Highlights of the Colonial Jewish Burial Ground
Judah Touro 1854- son of Isaac Touro, Judah was America's first great philanthropist whose substantial donation helped fund the Bunker Hill Monument in Boston; made his fortune as a merchant and shipper in New Orleans; monument designed by Isaiah Rogers


Rebecca Lopez 1833- daughter of Isaac Touro; successfully fought to implement her brother Abraham's bequest to the synagogue; wife of Joshua Lopez and daughter-in-law to Aaron Lopez

Reyna Hays Touro 1787- wife of Isaac Touro; sister of Moses Michael Hays of Boston

Isaac Touro 1784- spiritual leader of Newport's colonial congregation; died and buried in Jamaica but memorialized here

Abraham Touro 1822- son of Isaac Touro; bequeathed funds to maintain the synagogue and pave the street between it and the Burial Ground which led to the street name being changed to Touro Street


Moses Seixas 1809- his letter as Parnas (president) of the Jewish congregation to President Washington prompted the famous response from Washington; founder of the Bank of Rhode Island; his brother, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was the first American born rabbi


Moses Levy 1792- purchased land for the synagogue with Jacob Rodriguez Rivera and Isaac Hart

Aaron Lopez 1782- born in 1731 in Lisbon as Duarte and lived as a crypto (secret) Jew; moved to Newport in 1752 and changed his name to Aaron; openly declared he was Jewish; became the wealthiest man in Newport; made his fortune as a merchant and spermaceti candle manufacturer

Moses Michael Hays 1805- brother In-law of Isaac Touro; helped raise Isaac’s children after his death; founder of the Bank of Boston and King David Masonic lodge

Jacob Rodriguez Rivera 1789- partner and father-in-law to Aaron Lopez; son of Abraham Rodriguez Rivera; spermaceti candle maker and Parnas of Newport congregation

Abraham Rodriguez Rivera 1765- marble monument was imported from Amsterdam and inscribed in Ladino (Spanish and Hebrew); was a crypto Jew who later served as president of Shearith Israel in New York City

Rachel Rodriguez Rivera 1761- oldest visible stone in the burial ground; inscribed in Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, and English


Abigail Lopez 1762 -born in Portugal as Anna; the first wife of Aaron Lopez


Sources- Gradwohl, David Mayer, "Like Tablets of the Law Thrown Down; The Colonial Jewish Burying Ground Newport Rhode Island", Sigler Printing, 2007
Segal, Rabbi Joshua L., "The Old Jewish Cemetery of Newport: A History of North America's Oldest Extant Jewish Cemetery", Jewish Cemetery Publishing, LLC, 2007;Urofsky, Melvin, "A Genesis of Religious Freedom: The Story of the Jews of Newport, RI and Touro Synagogue”


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