No place is a paradise on earth. Indeed, the very idea of paradise on earth is idolatrous. But you ought to be given a little leeway in your idolatry if you are Jewish, because the United States was and remains the first and only country on earth in which a Jew can feel that he or she can both be a fully participating member of the tribe and a fully vested citizen at the same time.

This did not happen all at once, but just as the founding philosophy of the country was in tension with the slavery that stained the United States until the Emancipation Proclamation did away with it, so was the same founding philosophy at odds with the anti-Semitic norms in Western culture. And by the year of my birth in 1961, most institutional barriers to Jewish advancement had been done away with. In the 58 years since, I have personally experienced only the slightest whispers of the ancient hatreds that have beset my people since Joseph died in Egypt. My Jewish contemporaries and those born after us are, in this respect, the most fortunate Jews ever to have walked this earth.

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