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Philadelphia's Jewish History Museum Spotlights George Washington's Efforts For Religious Freedom

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The National Museum of American Jewish History, on Independence Mall, is celebrating President's Day with a full day of free activities that highlight the nation's promise of religious freedom.

The day includes docent-led discussions and tours in multiple languages, arts and crafts (below), and appearances by a George Washington reënactor.

But the focal point of the day is some 18th-century original correspondence from President George Washington to the Jewish community (top photo), promising religious freedom in the newly formed nation.


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(An arts and crafts table in the National Museum of American Jewish History. Photo by Cherri Gregg)


"It's considered to be one of the most important documents in American Jewish history, but also in American history," says Katerina Romanenko, a museum spokeswoman.

Romanenko says Washington's restating his now-famous famous words, "to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance," underscored his committment to freedom -- something Jews and new Americans so desperately wanted.

"The whole museum tells the story of how this promise was fulfilled in many ways, but also how society always had to fight in many ways to fight for freedom, to preserve freedom."

In addition to free President's day admission there's "sensory friendly" access for children, teens and adults with special needs.  The museum will also offer free admission throughout the month of February.

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