By Headley, Rowland George Allanson-Winn

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Jewish exclusivity, from this point of view, was unnecessary, even mean-spirited. The traditional, adversity-centered circumlocutions were superfluous if not actually pitiable. Why give credence to a convoluted vision in which victims are portrayed as victors and affliction is recast as redemption when a simpler, more credible, tale of liberation can be told? In brief, theorizing a world in which Jews could flourish in security was the great fault line dividing premodern Jewish communal solidarity from the modern fracturing of Jewish loyalties.

The fears and sensitivities accumulated over the centuries have had so many painful reinforcements that they will not be easily swayed by a half-century of relative affluence and security—even if this new reality gives every sign of being essentially different from everything that preceded it. But these stubborn fears—whatever their legitimate place in a healthy Jewish consciousness — are, at present, the source of a serious impasse. Since it is this other-directed, adversity-centered segment of the Jewish heritage that most powerfully resists attenuation, it often remains the core substance of Jewish identity—particularly among those most vulnerable to assimilatory pressures.

The Jewish minority and not the Christian majority would need to shed its cultural peculiarities in order to join the universal human fellowship. There is another important sense in which the transformation demanded of the Jews was more daunting than the one that faced Christian society. Christianity always understood itself as a universalist religion. The Church was "catholic" in the original sense of the term: universal. " The cosmopolitan aspirations of the Enlightenment, therefore, did not represent a departure from the basic contours of Christian thought.

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