George Washington letter to be read at oldest US synagogue

A letter from George Washington will be read at the nation’s oldest synagogue to celebrate freedom of religion.

The annual reading is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday at the 255-year-old Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island.

Touro Synagogue holds an important place in the history of the nation’s commitment to religious liberty. In 1790, Washington visited Touro, then sent its congregants a letter saying the government of the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

The synagogue, dedicated in 1763, is a national historic site that draws tens of thousands of visitors annually.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, plans to join Salve Regina University President Jane Gerety at the synagogue for the 71st annual reading of the letter by the Touro Synagogue Foundation.

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