A high-profile dispute in the Rhode Island and New York Jewish communities went to trial here Monday.

Opening arguments were heard in U.S. District Court in Providence before Judge John McConnell in a lawsuit pitting Newport’s Congregation Jeshuat Israel and Congregation Shearith Israel of New York. The dispute began in 2012 when Jeshuat Israel, which worships at Touro Synagogue, agreed to sell a set of rimonim dating to the 18th century to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. As reported at the time, the proceeds from the $7.4 million sale were used to create an endowment to maintain the Touro building and keep a rabbi in residence.

Seth Draper, Justin Abrams, Rita Draper and Ross Draper. /Abrams | Draper familySeth Draper, Justin Abrams, Rita Draper and Ross Draper. /Abrams | Draper familyIn 1980, a handful of Jewish residents of Block Island came together to consider a shared idea: hold regular Shabbat and High Holy Day services. They eventually did this throughout the summer months. This first simple step eventually led the group, which had grown to a dozen or so participants, to formalize their common vision to create a temple on the island.

Against all odds, their dream became a reality, and the Congregation Sons and Daughters of Ruth was born, and later incorporated in 1987.

The founders had no building. As current vice president Shirley Kessler recalls, summer resident “Marvin Salzburg offered a barn on his land” – off in a remote part of the island. All they had were two Torahs and the desire to formalize their Jewish presence within the community.

Gilor Meshulam cooks with the students. /Temple SinaiGilor Meshulam cooks with the students. /Temple SinaiCan you go to Jerusalem just for the day?  That is exactly what the students and parents at Temple Sinai Religious School did by celebrating “Jerusalem Day” on May 17.


Third-graders display their projects constructed with a little help from their parents. /Nitza AtaliThird-graders display their projects constructed with a little help from their parents. /Nitza AtaliTemple Beth-El third grade religious school students worked on a project with their parents during an open house this spring. Throughout the year, the students studied the book “Partner with God,”  Discovering God in our Everyday Life.

According to their teacher Nitza Atali, this is the beginning of a journey that lasts until 12th grade. The children learn about Jewish heritage customs and obligations and how everything is connected to Torah.

Israel FinegoldIsrael FinegoldIsrael Finegold is the new intern this summer at the Jewish Voice. He will be writing feature stories and other articles for the paper. Finegold is interested in the field of journalism because he has always been a curious person with a passion for learning new information.