Commemorating Religious Freedom

| 10 Apr 2022 | 07:28

The Lower Manhattan Historical Association held its Second Annual Ceremony honoring the 292th anniversary of the Consecration of the first Synagogue in North America on Friday, April 8, 2022, at 26 South William Street, co-named “Mill Street Synagogue & Seixas Way.” The LMHA is a collaborative umbrella organization for Downtown New York historical, cultural and military groups devoted to the study, preservation, commemoration and celebration of Lower Manhattan’s rich and complex history.

The Mill Street Synagogue, located approximately on what is today the corner of South William Street and Mill Lane in Lower Manhattan, was critically important to the development of the Jewish community in New York City and America. It was from this synagogue that Gershom Mendes Seixas, the “patriot rabbi,” led the Jewish community in New York in support of the American Revolution and participated in George Washington‘s inauguration.

The ceremony included remarks by US Congressman Nadler and the presentation of the Gershom Mendes Seixas Religious Freedom Award to Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, who has fostered Rabbi Seixas’ ideals of religious freedom. In addition, the Letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation (August 18, 1790) was read after remarks from Reverend Zachary Edinger, Sexton, Congregation Shearith Israel; Rabbi Nissi Eber, The Jewish Learning Experience; Rabbi Ari Fridkis, Temple of Universal Judaism and Joshua Mack, Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust; Caroline Kaplan read the Letter from George Washington to the Hebrew Congregation.

James Kaplan, Founder & Chair of LMHA, spoke of the founding of the nonprofit LMHA and previewed the upcoming event on Tuesday, May 17 to mark the Buttonwood Agreement, the founding document of what is now New York Stock Exchange and is one of the most important financial documents in the USA. The agreement organized securities trading in New York City and was signed on May 17, 1792 – 230 years ago.