PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons will deliver the keynote address at the 60th Annual Reading of the George Washington Letter at the nation’s oldest synagogue, Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I., Sunday, Aug. 19, 2007, at 1 p.m. (Text of the address is online)
Simmons’ remarks are part of a weekend-long celebration at Touro Synagogue honoring the letter and the spirit of a written exchange in 1790 between President Washington and Moses Seixas, warden of Touro Synogogue. The correspondence confirms their shared commitment to tolerance, diversity and religious freedom a year before the Bill of Rights was ratified. The full text of their letters can be found at www.tourosynagogue.org/GWLetter1.php.
“I am deeply honored to be a part of this annual celebration of the essential and all-important principle of religious toleration and free exchange of ideas,” said Simmons. “Washington’s message of pluralism, diversity and respect for differences is just as relevant today as it was more than two centuries ago.”
This year will mark the 60th consecutive celebration of the George Washington Letter Reading. Nobel Prize winners, diplomats, philanthropists, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg have been among those who have had the honor of presenting the keynote and reading the famous letter.
The Touro Synagogue Foundation is a not-for-profit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to maintaining and preserving Touro Synagogue and to promoting the cause of religious freedom in America. Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in North America and the only to have survived the colonial era, is also an active house of worship.
Other dignitaries attending the event on Sunday include Gov. Donald Carcieri, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Frank Williams, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Nuala Pell, and Newport Mayor Stephen Waluk