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First Lady Tours California

December 11, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton began a two-day tour of California’s historic treasures Thursday as a congressional inquiry that could lead to her husband’s impeachment moved forward in Washington.

Mrs. Clinton made no mention of the sex scandal that has plagued her husband since January or the ongoing impeachment hearings.

She visited Boyle Heights as part of her Save America’s Treasures campaign to preserve historical sights. She also was scheduled to visit a historic theater.

The only mention of the president came when she told the crowd standing outside a damaged synagogue about her holiday travel plans. The Clintons will visit Jerusalem for the start of Hanukah.

``There we will light the menorah,″ Mrs. Clinton said. ``And after that we will travel to Bethlehem, where we will also light a Christmas tree.″

Standing in front of the shuttered Talmud Torah, also known as the Breed Street Shul, the first lady thanked local volunteers and praised the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California for leading the effort to renovate the synagogue and turn it into a museum honoring the many ethnic heritages of Boyle Heights, a working-class neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles.

The historic synagogue, closed for more than a decade, was the heart of the community’s large Jewish population in the first half of the century. Mrs. Clinton said turning the decaying synagogue into a museum would ``culturally unite generations and create connection among people.″

The congregation of the brownstone synagogue dwindled with the neighborhood’s Jewish population in the 1950s and 1960s. It has been closed for more than a decade after earthquakes damaged its foundation and its aging roof began falling in.

Renovation is scheduled to begin in the spring.

On Friday, Mrs. Clinton was scheduled to visit San Francisco’s Hall of Flowers in Golden Gate Park before heading back to Washington.

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