Art: New World Synagogues

Down through time, the Jews have never identified their ritual with any set style of architecture. King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, built in 1012 B.C., owed much to Phoenician and Egyptian models; Herod's temple conformed to prevailing Roman forms. In Spain Jews built exquisite synagogues in Moorish style. Since they were uncommitted as to style. Jewish congregations have always been leading patrons of the best architecture of their day.

Prime case in point is the oldest synagogue in the U.S., the 196-year-old Touro synagogue in Newport, R.I. (see overleaf). The small congregation of...

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