Mediation fails in lawsuits over oldest synagogue

AP News
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Posted: Aug 13, 2013 1:10 PM

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Mediation has failed in lawsuits between the nation's oldest synagogue and first Jewish congregation.

Lawyers for the leaders of New York City's Congregation Shearith Israel and Newport, R.I.'s, Touro Synagogue tell The Associated Press they were unable to reach an agreement under a mediation overseen by a federal judge in Rhode Island.

The lawsuits will now move forward.

The dispute started after leaders at Touro agreed to sell a set of Colonial-era Torah finial bells for $7.4 million to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Leaders of the New York congregation stepped in to oppose the sale, saying it owns Touro and the bells.

Touro is a National Historic Site that is visited by tens of thousands of people every year.

Lawsuits are pending in Rhode Island and New York.