Trial wraps in fight for oldest US synagogue, valuable bells

By The Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ A federal judge in Rhode Island is hearing final arguments in a trial over control of the nation’s oldest synagogue and ceremonial bells worth $7.4 million.

The congregation that worships at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and the nation’s first Jewish congregation in New York are suing each other.               

U.S. District Judge John McConnell said during Friday’s arguments that “there is no smoking gun” and that the case requires him to patch together 250 years of history then weigh the evidence to make a decision.

The Newport group wants to sell the bells to a museum and use the money for an endowment. The New York group opposes the sale.

Testimony in the bench trial ended in June. McConnell is expected to issue a decision later.

© The Associated Press / WLNE-TV 2015