In celebration of the beginning of Passover, here’s an important item of Rhode Island Judaica: A Lunar Calendar, of the Festivals, and Other Days in the Year, Observed by the Israelites (Newport: Newport Mercury, 1806 — Vault, CE 35 .L8).
This calendar — used to determine holidays and other important dates — reflects Rhode Island’s long tradition of religious freedom. The Touro Synagogue, for instance, is the nation’s oldest, completed in 1763 as a place of worship for a Jewish community that had been in Newport for over a hundred years.
A Lunar Calendar is the first Jewish calendar printed in America and only the second book printed for American Jews. (The Library also holds a copy of the first, A Sermon Preached at the Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode-Island, called “The salvation of Israel”. Both have recently been re-cataloged and re-housed.)
Moses Lopez, the author of the calendar, was born in Portugal and apparently also held a patent for the manufacture of potash.*
This copy includes the following inscription on the front pastedown: “Presented to Jacob J. Cohen by Naphtali Phillips, New York 11th Ce Adar, 5570″ [March 17, 1810].” The image below (click for a closer view) provides an idea of the calendar’s contents and includes annotations by, perhaps, Cohen:
* See George Mason’s Reminiscences of Newport (Newport: Charles E. Hammett, Jr., 1884), pages 56-7.