Nation’s oldest synagogue celebrates anniversary

In this Thursday, May 28, 2015 photo Touro Synagogue, the nation's oldest, is seen from the "ladies gallery" in Newport, R.I. Women attend synagogue seated on the second floor while men take their places on the ground floor. A federal judge has allowed the state of Rhode Island to intervene in a fight over the future of the synagogue by a lawsuit, due for trial Monday, June 1, which pits the nation's first Jewish congregation in New York City against the congregation that worships at the 250-year-old Touro Synagogue. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — U. S. Sen. Jack Reed will speak in Newport as part of an event marking 225 years since George Washington sent a letter of support to Newport’s Jewish community.

Reed will speak Sunday at the Touro Synagogue’s annual reading of the 1790 letter “To the Hebrew Congregation at Newport.” In it, Washington promises the new government will never support religious bigotry or persecution.

This year’s keynote speaker is Curtis G. Viebranz, president and CEO of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Touro is the nation’s oldest synagogue. Its congregation is embroiled in a legal dispute with the nation’s oldest Jewish congregation, based in New York City, which says it owns Touro. Lawsuits are pending in New York and Rhode Island.

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