Jeshuat Israel and N.Y. congregation back in court


In the latest action in the long-running dispute over control of the historic Touro Synagogue, both sides were in District Court in Newport on March 28.

Jeshuat Israel, the congregation that worships in the Newport synagogue, was seeking to enforce what it claims is a settlement that will allow it to remain as tenants of the Touro Synagogue through June 2024.

But Congregation Shearith Israel, in New York City, sees things differently. While a federal appeals court ruled in 2017 that Shearith Israel is the rightful owner of the Touro Synagogue building, the congregation returned to court in January seeking to eject Jeshuat Israel’s leadership.

On March 28, according to an account at, the New York congregation argued that the “settlement” that the Newport congregation seeks to make binding isn’t really a settlement at all.

Louis M. Solomon, president of the board at Shearith Israel, said the settlement is merely a summary of Shearith Israel’s proposal.

Solomon has also said that Shearith Israel isn’t trying to eject the Newport congregation, but is seeking transparency and to hold two seats on Jeshuat Israel’s 15-member board, according to the Providence Journal story.

Jeshuat Israel wants the New York congregation to be held to the settlement terms mailed to Newport congregants on Feb. 10, which would extend Jeshuat Israel’s $1 annual lease until June 30, 2024, as the two congregations work to rebuild trust.

Barring approval of the settlement, the paper reported, Jeshuat Israel asked the court to dismiss Shearith Israel’s repossession action altogether because “New York-based Shearith Israel is so detached from this jewel in Rhode island that it does not even know the synagogue’s address.” Shearith Israel’s notice to terminate Jeshuat Israel’s tenancy was sent to the wrong address on Touro Street.

District Court Judge Christopher K. Smith continued the hearing to May 23 to give Shearith Israel a chance to respond to the motion to dismiss.