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 “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 at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 21, at Touro Synagogue and will be available for live viewing on the Touro Synagogue Facebook pagefacebook.com/TouroSynagogue.

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

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

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