Nathan Levy, a Colonial merchant whose ship, the Myrtilla, brought the Liberty Bell to America, helped found this Jewish congregation in 1740, making it the oldest in Philadelphia and the second oldest in the United States. The original synagogue was at 3rd and Cherry streets; the congregation's current space (1976) is in the Sephardic style (following Spanish and Portuguese Jewish ritual). The synagogue's Spruce Street Cemetery (about eight blocks away, beyond Old City) dates from 1740 and is the oldest surviving Jewish site in Philadelphia. It was the burial ground for the Spanish-Portuguese Jewish community. Guided tours of the cemetery, arranged through the synagogue, are given mid-June through mid-August, Tuesday to Friday and Sunday 10 to 3, and by appointment the rest of the year.
Oct 19, 2008
The cemetery on 8th and Spruce is of some interest though usually not open. The temple is a bland modernist nothing, and the adjoining museum was being moved in spring 2008 with nothing of interest to view.