INTRODUCTION TO EXPANDED EDITION
The need for a new edition of Who Is A Jew? is personally gratifying, but also troubling. An author is happy when his work is well received and in demand. On the other hand, it is rather sad that there remains a great need for the clarification of this issue. Unfortunately, we are witnesses to a tragic deterioration of the situation.
The recent elections in Israel (November 1988) had the side-effect of bringing the issue of "Who Is A Jew" to public attention as never before. The realistic possibility of finally having an amendment to the Israeli "Law of Return" generated an organized barrage of wild accusations and stormy protests by opponents to the amendment, which appeared to tear the Jewish world asunder. They pulled all plugs to use the general media and to draft American legislators and diplomats to help them wage their partisan battle. Implicit and explicit threats of financial repercussions for Jewish charities in the USA and Canada, as well as for the State of Israel, forced social and communal organizations (like Jewish Federations, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the American and Canadian UJA) to abandon their historical policy of strict neutrality in matters of religion and politics, and to side with them.
The groups opposing a correction of the Law of Return did not base themselves on careful study and responsible deliberations. They did not appeal to reason, but set out on a deliberate campaign of misinformation and disinformation, scare-tactics and false rumors, literally demonizing the orthodox rabbinate and community. It was a campaign of Greuel-Propaganda, maliciously utilizing the technique of "the Big Lie": "repeat a lie often enough and it will be believed."
How sad and tragic that Jews became disciples of our worst enemies less than half a century after the Holocaust!
To skirt the real issue, they propagated all kinds of new arguments, such as:
Some of these claims have already been touched upon in the original edition of this book. The recent emphasis on these, however, makes it necessary to deal with them again, in greater detail, to expose their inherent falsehoods. To this end we now add a supplementary section at the end of this edition.
At the same time, a new, powerful reason has arisen that necessitates a speedy amendment to the Law of Return, namely the Mubarak Awad-scandal. This, too, has been included in the supplement.
We added also additional material and articles, which have appeared since the original publication, to the appendix section.
Having said all this, I feel most sincerely that there is a beautiful silver lining around the stormy clouds of the present controversy: millions of Jews have become aware that there is a problem. A great many of these are now thinking about the issue, and for the first time feel compelled to give serious thought to their Jewish roots and the Jewish future of their children.
One of the most gratifying effects of this book was the tremendous response of letters and calls received by the author from people who unwittingly were victimized by illegitimate "conversions." Reading this book made them realize that they had been deceived and they sought advice how to rectify the situation.
No less gratifying were the comments of numerous readers who found in this book a source for learning and understanding basic concepts and ideas of Judaism. Such results justify all my efforts and proved them more than worthwhile.
As already stated in the preface to Part One, this book is not intended for polemical debates. Its sole purpose was, and remains, to teach, to clarify, to reason, and to reaffirm the fundamental principles of "justice, truth and peace." As such it forges an inviolable bond between the author and all those who share these ideals.
J. Immanuel Schochet
Toronto, Ont., 3 Adar-I 5749