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Ford Extols Philadelphia Synagogue

President Ford has given the Sephardic Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, America’s second oldest Jewish religious body, a hand-written letter in connection with its dedication of its new synagogue.

The letter was presented by David Lissy, associate director of the President’s Domestic Council, at ceremonies Sunday. The congregation was one of two to receive letters from George Washington, the other being the Touro Synagogue in Newport, R.I. It is one of six colonial American congregations.

“In the year of our bicentennial, the dedication of your new synagogue carries special meaning,” Ford wrote. “It marks the continuity of life and tradition of your congregation. It also reflects the vision of George Washington and our other founding fathers that in a free land each should be free to worship as he chooses.”

Mikveh Israel, which has had several synagogue buildings since its founding in 1740, is now located near the site of its first structure and is a block away from Independence Hall. The structure has a sanctuary for about 300 worshippers and a museum in which the Washington and Ford letters will be on display. Lissy himself performed his Bar Mitzvah ceremony in the previous synagogue building. His father, the late Frank M. Lissy, was an officer of the congregation.

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