A Quiet Miracle

Jewish life has survived and thrived in Canada—against all odds

Historian Allan Levine must be a very brave man. First, writing Seeking the Fabled City: The Canadian Jewish Experience involved sifting through a massive and widely dispersed mountain of documents, plus interviewing dozens of people, all to create a book deeply wounding to Canadian vanity. We have become fond of contrasting our multicultural tolerance and civility with the bigotry of less happy nations. That is not a theme you can extract from our history, however; Canada’s treatment of its Jewish population often makes for painful reading. We live in a country that disliked and mistreated refugee minorities fleeing oppression long after the Second World War. Multiculturalism is a very new value here.

Canada is now one of the best places in the world to be Jewish, which is not necessarily good news for a historian. There is no central tragedy to shape the narrative line—just a progression of setbacks...