A bitter battle for control of oldest synagogue in the US

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NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) – A bitter struggle for control over the nation’s oldest synagogue goes to trial Monday in Rhode Island.

Congregation Jeshuat Israel worships at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport and says its very existence is at stake.

The congregation that owns the synagogue is Shearith Israel in New York. It accuses the Newport congregation of lawlessness for agreeing to sell a pair of ceremonial bells valued at more than $7 million.

Lawyers say they may use more than 1,000 exhibits, some going back as far as 1733.

Shearith Israel says it owns the bells and accuses the Newport congregation of trying to steal the bells and then sell them secretly.
By MICHELLE R. SMITH