With almost two centuries of history, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans has a lot of artifacts, and in the coming months will open the Touro Synagogue Museum.
The museum will be in a room near the chapel. A museum committee is being chaired by Adrien Genet, and the committee is collecting items or documents for the museum.
The collection includes a ledger from 1833, listing marriages, births and deaths. There are renderings of the progression of the dome as it is being built, and yearbooks from the large Sunday School population of the 1950s and 1960s
Other documents explain economic problems post-Civil War, identification records of families who made New Orleans their permanent home so many generations ago, recognitions of boards and clergy, and numerous other historical pieces.
Touro Synagogue was an amalgamation of two previous congregations, Congregation Gates of Mercy, established in 1828, and Dispersed of Judah, founded in 1846. The merger of these two congregations in 1881 helped to strengthen the center of Jewish life in New Orleans.
The current Touro building dates back to 1909.
The congregation was named for Judah Touro, a New Orleans businessman and a benefactor of the Jewish community, who had settled in New Orleans from New England. His father had been leader in Touro Synagogue In Newport, R.I., America’s oldest synagogue.
One item in the collection is a fork (above) that was given by Touro to Rezin Shepherd shortly before Touro’s death. They had fought together in the War of 1812, and when Touro was wounded and thought to be dead, Shepherd tended to him and saved his life.