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.


Orthodox Zionists meet with President Calvin Coolidge at the White House in 1926. (Courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Gr. Washington)

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.


In 2005, then-president George W. Bush views a Torah with Rabbi Zvi Teitelbaum, left, and Shelton Zuckerman at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Northwest Washington. (ANDREW COUNCILL/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

President Obama reinforced United States' commitment to Israel during remarks at a Washington synagogue in observance of Jewish American Heritage Month. (Reuters)

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.)