Letter: Rhode Island synagogue welcomed George Washington – Opinion – The Columbus Dispatch

Posted By on December 28, 2019

SaturdayDec28,2019at4:11AM

The Sunday Dispatch article Hanukkah steps forward reported that "in the early to mid-19th century, Judaism wasn't openly practiced or publicized in the United States."

The article skipped over the role in American history that the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, has had. In 1758, the congregation hired Peter Harrison to build its synagogue. Harrison was a well-known builder of the day and one of his other structures, Christ Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, remains a landmark on Harvard Square.

According to the Touro Synagogue's website, "The Newport building was completed in 1763 and was dedicated during the Chanukah festival celebrations on December 2nd of that year. The dedication ceremony was a regional celebration attended not only by the congregation, but also by clergy and other dignitaries from around the colony including Congregationalist Minister Ezra Stiles who later became the president of Yale University."

In 1790, George Washington came to Newport in his effort to win support for the Bill of Rights, and the synagogue's rabbi, Moses Mendes Seixas, was one of the leaders in the community who were accorded the honor of welcoming him.

Again from the synagogue's website: "In his letter of welcome, Seixas chose to raise the issues of religious liberties and the separation of church and state. Washingtons response, quoting Seixas thoughts, has come down to us as a key policy statement of the new government in support of First Amendment rights."

This is history that should never be forgotten.

Jay Hoster, Columbus

Originally posted here:

Letter: Rhode Island synagogue welcomed George Washington - Opinion - The Columbus Dispatch

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