Early American Jewry - Vol. 1

By Jacob Radar Marcus | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
New England, 1759-1775

THE Jews of New York responded speedily and generously and received a charming letter of thanks addressed to Myer Myers and Jacob Franks. The plans were drawn by Peter Harrison, a brilliant amateur architect, who designed also King's Chapel, Boston. The cornerstones were laid that year of 1759, and the synagogue was finally consecrated in 1763. Ezra Stiles, a local Congregationalist minister, judged it to be one of the most perfect church buildings in America; Reverend Mr. Andrew Burnaby, a visiting English clergyman, agreed that it was an elegant structure but thought it totally spoiled by the school building which the Jews had attached to it. This house of worship, designed by Harrison as a labor of love, is still standing today, the oldest synagogue in the United States. Now known as the Touro Synagogue, it has become, under the terms of an act of Congress, a national historic site.

It was no slip of the pen to state above that "cornerstones" were laid; actually there were six (four for the

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