woensdag 4 december 2013
Oldest Synagogue Building in U.S. Turns 250
During our Thanksgiving and Hanukkah posts, we told you about the oldest Jewish community in the United States and its connections to celebrations of thanksgiving, patriotism, and dedication. Today we bring you news of the 250th anniversary of the Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., the oldest synagogue building in the U.S.:
The Newport building was completed in 1763 and was dedicated during the [Hanukkah] 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.
While our Thanksgiving post mentioned George Washington’s connection and relationship with Colonial Jews, the Touro Synagogue was also recognized by our first president and founding father. In a letter written to the congregation in 1790, Washington declared the dedication of the young nation to not only the Jewish people, but to all of its citizens:
“[H]appily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support …
“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants …
“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”
Take a moment to read President Washington’s words that still hold so much meaning for modern America, and thank God that we are guaranteed the freedom from bigotry and persecution and right to pray and worship.