Joseph Aaron has a touching essay on being Jewish and being American at Jewish World Review.

Here are is an excerpt:

This country continues to amaze me.

The Jewish people continue to amaze me.

Let's start with the United States of America, land that I love.

The constitution of the United States of America says the new term of the Supreme Court is to begin on the first Monday of October each year.

Only problem with that is that, this year, the first Monday of October was Yom Kippur.

And so, a conflict between the holiest day of the year for about five million or so Americans out of a population of about 300 million, and convening the opening session of the highest court in the land on the day the constitution calls for.

How was that conflict resolved? By postponing the beginning of the Supreme Court's new term.

What a country.

Now, admittedly the decision wasn't just made for philosophical reasons. There was something very practical going on. Namely that two members of the Supreme Court are Jews and so wouldn't have been there.

Two out of nine members of this country's highest court are Jews.

What a country.

It's good every now and then to stop a minute to recognize how wonderful this country is for Jews and to both appreciate and take pleasure in that.

Especially in light of how we have been treated in other places during our long history.

One of the most radical breaks with the past made by the new United States was religious liberty. Not merely toleration of select other faiths by an official faith, but actual religious liberty. Our nation has been blessed by people from a wide variety of faith-traditions as a result. Saturday I was looking through the church listings for the area around Lawton, Oklahoma. Weekend services at Ft. Sill, a large Army base, were listed also. In addition to the various Protestant services and Roman Catholic masses, there were Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, and LDS meetings.

As a Christian, I pray for the conversion of these folks, and my political and social thought are based on my Christian understanding. That understanding includes seeking conversion peacefully, not coercively; and, loving my neighbor, of whatever religion or none, as myself. (more below)

While Christianity in the past usually has tolerated no rivals once acheiving power, Christianity itself in Europe helped to bring about religious toleration. While the dominant history told in the modern era has stressed that religious liberty came through the growing secularization of Europe, beginning with the Enlightenment, a revision is underway.

For example, Perez Zagorin in How the Idea of Religious Toleration Came to the West (Princeton University Press, 2003), tells the story of the religious voices calling for toleration, including those predating the Enlightenment. To quote from a review by Paul Brink, "Who were these thinkers? A few names are familiar--Erasmus, Sir Thomas More, John Milton, for example--but most are much less so: Arminius, William Walwyn, and especially Calvin's opponent Sebastian Castellio . . . Tolerationist controversies in the Netherlands and England receive close attention . . .. Religious figures such as these, he suggests, did most of the heavy lifting in terms of developing a theory of pluralism in the West, . . . .