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J. D. B. News Letter

March 21, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Rhode Island Legislature will decide at the present session whether the $10,000 Touro fund of 1822, which has grown to approximately $87,000, shall be used for the payment of current expenses of the Synagogue Jeshuat Israel of Newport or whether withdrawals shall be authorized only for repairs to the synagogue building and premises.

The Touro fund, left by Abraham Touro of Boston more than a century ago is known as the “foundation rock” of the Newport synagogue, believed to be the oldest Jewish house of worship in the United States. The will provided that the fund should be used “for the purpose of supporting the synagogue.”

A law, giving the State administrative power over the fund, had for years authorized withdrawals “for repairs upon the synagogue buildings and premises, and upon the wall enclosing the Jewish burying ground at Newport.” At the same time, the State Legislature gave the Newport Representative Council power to draw upon the State Treasurer for amounts to be expended.

Last year, through the efforts of Councilman William A. Peckham of Newport, a resolution, provided that legislative action be sought to obtain use of the Touro fund for the synagogue’s running expenses, was approved by the City Council and enacted into State law by the General Assembly.

At the present time there is another act before the Legislature, introduced by the late Representative Fletcher W. Lawton, which provides that the fund shall be used “for the buildings and premises used in connection with the synagogue.” Some time before this legsilation was introduced, the Jewish Community House was erected on Touro Street, across from the synagogue building.

This new proposed legislation brought forth protest from a group led by Herman Mines, who say that they will seek to save the fund from depletion and see that it is kept for the purposes intended by the donor. It is also contended that the proposed change is being made without the voted approval of the congregation members.

In accordance with the movement, Representative Herbert Bliss has introduced legislation to repeal the amendment, resulting from the Peckham resolution which threw the fund open for the payment of the synagogue’s operating expenses.

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