The internationally known Harry and Jane Fischel Foundation has just organized an entity called the Committee on Accuracy in Publications about Jews and Judaism to serve the interests of Jews all over the world by facilitating the correction and elimination of reputational damage in published statements — primarily in books — particularly when the damage is in the form of errors that unintentionally defame Judaism in general, or Jewish values, individuals, communities, or organizations. The purpose of the Committee is not to get into controversies, debates, or lawsuits, but rather to facilitate the elimination of unintentional errors that would not otherwise be corrected by publishers in future editions or printings, owing to a lack of knowledge or awareness, indifference, and/or economics. If errors are spotted, even before the publication of the statements, all the better.
The administrator of the Committee proposed the concept, upon finding that a prestigious university press refused to correct clear errors bordering on defamation simply owing to purported considerations of cost. The intent is not to embarrass or coerce any publisher, but rather to help publishers to become aware of the seriousness of the errors pointed out to them, and to correct them.
Among the most fundamental Jewish values are (1) the avoidance of public humiliation — because to embarrass a person in public is compared to murdering that person — and (2) a person who saves one life is regarded as having saved an entire world. Preventing the perpetuation of published words that defame Judaism in general, Jewish individuals, or the other categories enumerated above can serve these fundamental values, and enhance Jewish scholarship in the process.
The sponsorship of this Committee is most appropriate in light of the high level of scholarship already promoted for generations by the Machon Harry Fischel, in Israel, and the Harry Fischel School for Higher Jewish Studies (affiliated with the Bernard Revel Graduate School) of Yeshiva University in New York City, both of which receive support from the Harry and Jane Fischel Foundation, along with the other entities and projects supported by the Foundation, as enumerated in the Foundation’s web site, fischelfoundation.org.
Only corrections that eliminate insults to Judaism, or to the categories enumerated above, are to be considered, and only if brought to the attention of the Committee by authors or publishers; not by members of the general public. The Committee’s basic mandates are to ascertain which errors are worth its intervention; to decide how to effect the necessary corrections; to persuade the publishers to make the proposed revisions; and to help defray the expenses associated with these corrections, if necessary. The Committee is not designed to subsidize the entire costs of new editions of any books.
Proposed revisions may be submitted to the Committee here. The purpose of the Committee’s Web site is to serve as a venue for accepting submissions. The Committee will publicize corrections only if it first receives the express written permission of the publishers that will benefit from this service. Otherwise, the role of the Committee will appear only in the Acknowledgments of the books that will benefit from this service, with the specificity and language deemed appropriate by the publisher and the Committee.
The initial panel consists of a distinguished group of scholars and communal leaders: Hon. Rabbi Benjamin Kelsen, Esq., rabbi (Yadin Yadin), rabbinical court judge (dayan), retired secular court judge, mediator, and attorney at law, chairperson; Professor David Berger, Dean of Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University; Rabbi Gil Student, founder of Yashar Books and former Managing Editor of O.U. Press; Dr. Bella Hass Weinberg, Professor, Division of Library Science, St. John’s University; and Rabbi Aaron I. Reichel, Esq., ex officio, Administrator of the Harry and Jane Fischel Foundation.