June 2, 1856: Franklin Pierce signs “An Act for the Benefit of the Hebrew Congregation in the city of Washington,” ensuring the right for Jews to purchase land for a synagogue in the District of Columbia.
Jan. 5, 1863: Abraham Lincoln rescinds General Ulysses S. Grant’s Order No. 11, which expelled Jews from the territories of Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.
June 9, 1876: Grant becomes the first U.S. president to attend synagogue services when he appeared at the dedication of Adas Israel Congregation in Northwest Washington.
Sept. 16, 1897: William McKinley attends the cornerstone ceremony of the Washington Hebrew Congregation at Eighth & I streets NW.
May 29, 1909: William Howard Taft becomes the first president to speak before an audience in a synagogue, at Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh.
May 3, 1925: Calvin Coolidge speaks during a cornerstone laying ceremony of the District’s Jewish Community Center on 16th Street.
1926: Coolidge meets with Orthodox Zionists at the White House.
1930: The first issue of the National Jewish Ledger, a local Jewish newspaper, features a Rosh Hashanah message to Washington Jews from Herbert Hoover.
Nov. 16, 1952: Harry S. Truman attends a cornerstone laying ceremony for Washington Hebrew Congregation’s new building.
May 6, 1955: Dwight Eisenhower addresses Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington at the building’s official dedication.
Dec. 17, 1979: Jimmy Carter becomes the first U.S. president to officially recognize Hanukkah, in a National menorah lighting in Lafayette Park due north of the White House.
Dec. 4, 1983: Ronald Reagan speaks at the Rockville (Md.) Jewish Community Center’s Hanukkah celebration about the plight of Refusniks trapped in the Soviet Union.
October 26, 1984: Reagan speaks to the Temple Hillel congregation in North Woodmere, N.Y.
1989: George H.W. Bush displays a menorah at the White House, which was given to him by the Synagogue Council of America.
Dec. 8, 1993: Bill Clinton hosts the first Hanukkah menorah lighting in the White House, where the pony tail of a 6-year old attendee briefly catches fire but is snuffed out by the president.
Dec. 10, 2001: George W. Bush establishes the White House Hanukkah party as an annual tradition.
Sept. 14, 2005: Bush tours Sixth and I Historic Synagogue just before addressing a dinner celebrating 350 years of Jewish life in North America.
April 9, 2009: President Obama becomes the first president to host a Passover Seder at the White House.
May 22, 2015: Obama will address the congregation of Adas Israel in commemoration of Jewish American Heritage Month and Solidarity Sabbath.
(Source: The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington, American Jewish Archives, Washington Hebrew Congregation and press reports.)