HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
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Longfellow and the Jewish Cemetery at Newport

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Gate of the Touro Synagogue

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Gate of the Touro Synagogue / Maine Historical Society

Anathema maranatha! was the cry
That rang from town to town, from street to street;
At every gate the accursed Mordecai
Was mocked and jeered, and spurned by Christian feet.


Fortunately, by Longfellow's day, the Jews had not been "spurned by Christian feet" at every gate. It may have helped that, during the Revolutionary years, the synagogue built by the Jews of Newport served as a civic meeting hall.

Isaac Touro remained in town to protect the structure, opening it up for use as a British hospital at one point. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that so many members of the congregation had a high social standing as prominent business people in the community.

In any event, the Jews of Newport were apparently well received. In fact, Isaac Touro, the synagogue's namesake, was a friend of the prominent Dr. Ezra Stiles, who went on to become president of Yale.

Enamored of the Hebrew language and Jewish religion which he had studied with Isaac Touro, under his tenure at Yale, freshmen were required to study the Hebrew language.

 

Item 9 of 13