‘Religious Freedom in Early America’ the subject of first Judah Touro 2022 program

Inside Touro Synagogue
Inside Touro Synagogue

The first program of Touro Synagogue Foundation’s 2022 Judah Touro Program Series, will be offered via Zoom on Thursday, May 5, at 7:30 p.m. Professor Carla Pestana will present a lecture titled “Religious Freedom in Early America: Newport’s Colonial Jewish Community in Context.”

While Newport’s historic tradition of religious liberty is often discussed, many are not aware of what it meant when it became the town’s policy in the 17th century. Pestana will remedy that by providing a broader and more accurate understanding of what religious freedom in the 1700s actually entailed including where it originated, who was responsible for making it the town’s policy, the impact on attracting Jews to Newport and its role in the broader colonial Atlantic world.

Pestana, one of the leading historians of early American and English Atlantic history, is the author of numerous books including “Protestant Empire: Religion and the Making of the English Atlantic World” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). She holds the Joyce Appleby Endowed Chair of America in the World at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is also Distinguished Professor and the History Department Chair.

There is no fee for this lecture, but reservations are required to receive the Zoom login information. To reserve, visit the Touro Synagogue website, www.tourosynagogue.org, or contact Meryle Cawley at 401-847-4794, extension 207.

And save the dates for the two Judah Touro Series events to follow, the evenings of Thursday, May 19, and Thursday, June 2, both of which will be presented via Zoom. Details to follow in the May issue of Jewish Rhode Island.

Additionally, the Touro Foundation announces that the Touro Synagogue, a National Historic Site, has re-opened for the 2022 season and will be open five days a week in May. History presentations will once again take place inside the synagogue building, which had been closed for two years, due to COVID restrictions.

Through the Judah Touro Series of lectures and other events, and in collaboration with other groups and communities across the country, Touro Synagogue Foundation seeks to connect the history of the synagogue to important themes of American History. The Foundation also seeks to develop an increasingly more relevant and sophisticated voice for that history and bring it to as wide and as diverse an audience as possible.

Originally known as “The Society of Friends of Touro Synagogue,” the Touro Synagogue Foundation was established in 1948 following the designation of Touro Synagogue, America’s oldest synagogue, as a National Historic Site. The Touro Synagogue Foundation is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to promoting and teaching religious diversity, colonial Jewish history, and the history of Touro Synagogue. The Foundation provides public access to the historic site, award-winning history tours, lectures, and educational programs for adults and youth. The Touro Synagogue Foundation operates public programs in partnership with the George Washington Institute for Religious Freedom, the National Park Service, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

For more information, visit the Touro Synagogue website, tourosynagogue.org.

Touro Synagogue, Newport