Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism
© University of California Press, 1998

David Biale, Michael Galchinsky, and Susannah Heschel, editors


book cover


22 January 2003 |

Jews came to America, in large measure from eastern Europe, with a kind of double consciousness. On the one hand, millennia of exile had accustomed them to view themselves as a perennial minority, always vulnerable to the whims of an often hostile majority. … Jews came to America with this consciousness of difference firmly ingrained, either as a product of their medieval exclusion or as a result of their newer status as the paradigmatic European minority. …
On the other hand … they also viewed America in quasi-messianic terms as a land where they might escape their historic destiny and become part of the majority. The goldene medina was not only a state whose streets were paved with gold in the obvious economic sense but it was also a state that seemed to promise political “gold”: liberation and equality. …. In their own imaginations, the Jews came to America not as they had wandered from country to country through the centuries of exile but as if they were coming home.


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