Elena Kagan Calls Jewish Identity 'No Less American'

Judge Reads From George Washington's Letter to R.I. Shul

Forward/Kurt Hoffman

By JTA

Published August 19, 2013.
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Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said at the annual reading of George Washington’s letter on religious liberty that she never felt like she was “less of an American” because of her Judaism.

Kagan spoke Sunday at the reading of the 1790 letter written by Washington to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, R.I., in which the first U.S. president offered a statement on religious liberty and affirmed rights and privileges generally unknown to Jews elsewhere at the time.

It was the 66th consecutive year that the letter has been read aloud at the synagogue.

Kagan said the letter was not written casually because Washington would have known his words would be scrutinized closely for lessons about the new government’s perspective on religious freedom, according to the Providence Journal.

The New York native said the fact that the granddaughter of Yiddish-speaking Russian immigrants to America could become a U.S. Supreme Court justice is something that could happen “only because of America and its unprecedented promise of political liberty.”

Kagan joined the high court in August 2010.


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