As most American Jews and some Canadian ones know, George Washington was their friend. It too rarely occurs to them to ask why. Of the American Founders he was he only one to concern himself with the Jews at all. Their presence in the infant nation was negligible (less than a thousandth of the population) and their political influence equally so. Were they even to be accounted citizens? Amidst so many grave crises that compelled Washington’s attention, just why did he find time for the Jews?
Clifford Orwin is Professor of Political Science, Classics, and Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, where he has won three major teaching awards, and Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.