“Washington used his unrivalled moral and political authority to speak to the whole country and the world, to the present and the future, about the idea of religious liberty that gave transcendent glory to the American Revolution.”


Every year in August, the oldest synagogue in America—Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island—holds a public reading of a letter written by George Washington to the congregation early in his first term as the first President of the United States. The letter ranks high among the documents affirming and defining the unprecedented American experiment in religious freedom.