This website is made possible by generous donations from users like you. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day. Please consider making a gift before our June 30 fiscal year end. Thank you!

Close [x]

Show [+]

Rebecca TouroLopez

Rebecca Touro Lopez successfully petitioned the Rhode Island State Legislature to preserve the Touro Synagogue of Newport, one of the first cases of the government preserving an unoccupied historic building. Lopez’s father served as cantor of the Newport Synagogue (the oldest synagogue in North America), but after the Revolutionary War, there were no Jews left in Newport, and the building fell into disrepair. The Touro family wandered throughout Lopez’s childhood, but maintained ties to Newport. Lopez’s brother made a $10,000 bequest to preserve the synagogue, but the money languished in the bank, unused, and if the attached cemetery continued to deteriorate, the synagogue grounds would revert to their original owner and could be demolished. But in 1824, Lopez persuaded the court to give the funds to a local agent who could repair and maintain the synagogue. The beautiful Touro Synagogue was restored, became a National Historic Site, and later sparked a lively argument in verse between Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Emma Lazarus about the Jewish experience in America. Lopez, who married Joshua Lopez when she was in her fifties, requested a Newport burial and was interred in the cemetery of the synagogue she had fought to preserve.

0 Comments

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, known to be the oldest synagogue in the United States, survives from the Colonial era.
Date of Birth
1779
Birthplace

Newport, RI
United States

Date of Death
1854
Occupations
Activist

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rebecca Touro Lopez." (Viewed on June 20, 2019) <https://jwa.org/people/lopez-rebecca>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

Can We Talk?

listen now

Get JWA in your inbox