Newport is home not only to the oldest surviving Jewish house of worship in the United States, Touro Synagogue (1763), but also to the country’s oldest surviving Jewish burying ground, established in 1677 to serve Newport’s early Hebrew congregation.


Update: August 13 – This event has been canceled.


Once a year, the gates to the Colonial Jewish Burying Ground, located at the intersection of Kay Street, Touro Street, and Bellevue Avenue, are opened to the public.  All are welcome to visit this historic site on Sunday, August 15 between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., weather permitting. A $5 donation per person is requested.

Colonial Jewish Burying Ground. Photo by Lew Keen

Immortalized in poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emma Lazarus, the cemetery features an Egyptian revival gate and gravestones for members of Newport’s original Jewish community. Visitors will view stones that are lettered in Hebrew, Latin, Spanish, Ladino, and English, and view the final resting place of Moses Seixas, the author of the letter that welcomed President George Washington to the city in 1790, prompting Washington’s historic response in which he promised that the government of the United Sates would give “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” Guides will be on hand to answer questions and provide additional information about the site.

Those who are unable to visit the burying ground on August 15 are encouraged to view the  5-minute ‘virtual tour’ of the site which may be seen on the Touro Synagogue Facebook page (see “Videos” page). Information about the burying ground is also available on the “History” page of tourosyangogue.org.

While the Touro Synagogue grounds will not be open for regular site tours on Sunday, August 15, a Colonial Jewish Walking Tour is planned for 11:15 am, weather permitting. The tour takes approximately one hour, and the fee is $15 per person. Please email tours@tourosynagogue.org or phone (401) 847-4794 ext. 207 for more information or to reserve a space on the tour.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).