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Rededication of Washington’s First Synagogue

A message from President Ford and a speech by former Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg marked yesterday’s outdoor rededication ceremony of Washington’s first synagogue, the original Adas Israel temple. President Ford’s written message stated that this was “a proud and happy occasion” for Washington and “an important occasion in our bicentennial.” The President saluted the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington for preserving the two-story colonial style building which is now the Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum.

Goldberg urged that the century-old structure be used for services rather than as a museum. He said, “It ought to be a living place.” The building is listed on the United States Register of Historic Places and is an officially designated landmark of the District of Columbia, The original Adas Israel was begun in 1869 by 35 families who separated from the Washington Hebrew Congregation to form their own Orthodox synagogue. On Sunday, the Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia, Dr. William E. Eggleston, laid the cornerstone in a Masonic ceremony. President U.S. Grant participated in the dedication 100 years ago. The present Adas Israel group is the largest. Conservative congregation in the Washington area, Arthur Burns, Federal Reserve Board chairman and member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, was also present at yesterday’s ceremony.

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