Trustee: Bell-sale idea at oldest US synagogue was offensive

In this Thursday, May 28, 2015 photo the "ladies gallery" is seen at the Touro Synagogue, the nation's oldest, in Newport, R.I. Women attend synagogue seated on the second floor while men take their places on the ground floor. A federal judge has allowed the state of Rhode Island to intervene in a fight over the future of the synagogue by a lawsuit, due for trial Monday, June 1, which pits the nation's first Jewish congregation in New York City against the congregation that worships at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A trustee from the congregation that owns the nation’s oldest synagogue has testified its leaders were offended and appalled when the congregation that worships there tried to sell a pair of ceremonial bells to a Boston museum for $7 million.

The trial over control of the Touro Synagogue in Newport entered its second week Monday.

Michael Katz is a trustee at New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel, the nation’s first Jewish congregation. It owns the 250-year-old Rhode Island synagogue.

Another congregation worships there. Its members say the building is held in trust for their benefit.

Katz says the New York congregation also owns the bells, which the Newport congregation disputes. He also said it violates their beliefs to sell religious objects.

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