A Lively Experiment

Notes on collections and events at the RIHS

A Lunar Calendar

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).

rhix17244This 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.


One comment on “A Lunar Calendar

  1. Phoebe Bean
    22 May 2009

    Presenter Naphtali Phillips married Rachel Seixas, daughter of Moses Mendez Seixas, a prominent merchant and banker in Newport, Rhode Island.

    See: “Naphtali Phillips,” Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 1913, 21. The article is available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adeje.cfm.

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This entry was posted on 7 April 2009 by in Collection Notes and tagged , .

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