On President Barack Obama’s first day in Israel yesterday, he brought along a little piece of Rhode Island. President Obama gifted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a framed wooden fragment of the U.S.’s oldest synagogue: the Touro Synagogue in Newport.
In 1790, President George Washington wrote a letter to the Newport congregation, conveying a now-famous statement on the American right to religious freedom. A quote from this letter is included with the synagogue fragment.
Co-President of the Jeshuat Israel Congregation Bea Ross says that the State Department looks for unique, symbolic gifts for foreign heads of state.
“Touro Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in America, and the synagogue stands as a symbol of religious freedom for all Americans.”
In addition to his visit to Israel, President Obama will make his first visits to the Palestinian Authority and Jordan this week.
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