A board member of the congregation that worships at the oldest synagogue in the U.S. says they felt "blackmailed" by the nation's first Jewish congregation in a dispute over the sale of ceremonial bells for $7 million.

Lawsuits over control of Newport's Touro Synagogue are being heard in federal court in Rhode Island.

David Bazarsky said Tuesday the congregation agreed to sell the bells to a museum only because they'd be on display to the public, and they wanted an endowment so Touro could operate in perpetuity.

Touro is owned by New York's Congregation Shearith Israel. Newport says it acts only as trustee.

Bazarsky says Shearith Israel hasn't been involved at Touro, even when asked for help.

Shearith Israel's lawyer submitted documents showing New York's involvement and relationship with Touro.