Who Is a Jew – Or Shalom’s Wrestling with the Question

During the year 5756 (1995-96) Or Shalom undertook to study and resolve for itself part of the question “Who is a Jew?” Specifically, we addressed the question of whether we would consider as Jewish for ritual purposes any child of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother (“Patrilineal Descent”).

The Board of Or Shalom struck a Va’ad to lead the community in study and debate on the issue, and to give a recommendation for action. The Va’ad organized a series of evenings of study, learning, personal testimony and group resolution. These evenings were all videotaped and the tapes are available for viewing – contact the office.

Discussion on the issue raged on the Or Shalom email list during Feb/Mar 1998. As well, various letters were written and submitted to the Va’ad or the Board.

This site presents that portion of the process which was possible to collate and post. You are welcome to read and think.

THE EMAIL DISCUSSION – This discussion has been edited slightly for brevity and readability, and to eliminate personal names and addresses.

LETTER FROM HILLEL GOELMAN addressed to the Va’ad and Board


POLICY OF THE BOARD adopted in 1998 following consideration of the above materials

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