Letter-reading honors religious freedom



Every summer, Touro Synagogue Foundation partners with Congregation Jeshuat Israel to host The George Washington Letter Reading, an event honoring our nation’s heritage of religious freedom. George Washington’s 1790 letter “To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport” was written during his first trip to Rhode Island as President and affirmed the new national government’s absolute commitment to the free exercise of religion, which he regarded as an “inherent natural right.” The federal government, he stated, “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” The annual event has a long tradition of distinguished keynote speakers and letter readers, including Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.


2022 marks the 75th annual reading of the famous letter, and the honor goes to Rita Slom, a long-time member of Congregation Jeshuat Israel and the Touro Synagogue Foundation board. Dr. Kevin Butterfield, executive director of The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at  Mount Vernon, will deliver the keynote address.


The event will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, at Touro Synagogue and will be available for live viewing on the Touro Synagogue Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/TouroSynagogue.


For more information on this or any other Touro Synagogue Foundation event, please email tours@tourosynagogue.org.