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Jews Honor Memory of Thos. Kennedy, Champion of Religious Tolerance

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

A group of five hundred Jews from all parts Maryland, as well as from several West Virginia and Pennsylvania communities, made a pilgrimage, under the auspices of the Menorah Lodge of the Independent Order B’nai B’rith of Baltimore to the grave of Thomas Kennedy, champion of religious tolerance in Maryland, whose remains are buried in the local Rose Hill Cemetery.

The pilgrimage was undertaken in commemoration of the centennial of the passage of the so-called “Jew Bill” which gave the Jews equal civil rights in Maryland and of which Thomas Kennedy was the author and champion. He waged a struggle in the state legislature which lasted from 1816 to 1826 for the passage of the bill which sought to remove from the constitution of Maryland the requirement that every candidate for office in the state must make a declaration of belief in the Christian religion.

The pilgrims were welcomed by Charles E. Bowman, mayor of Hagerstown. They gathered at the B’nai Brith headquarters from where they marched to the cemetery headed by the municipal band. Rabbi W. Willner of Frederick, Md., delivered the opening prayer. President Simon E. Sobeloff of Menorah Lodge unveiled a bronze tablet. Dr. Walter Byron Stehl of the local Episcopal church and E. Milton Altfeld. Assistant States Attorney of Baltimore, spoke of Thomas Kennedy’s services in the cause of Jewish liberty in Maryland. Dr. Irving Meisles of the Hagerstown Young People’s Synagogue, delivered a Hebrew prayer.

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