With this the concluding volume of The Jewish Encyclopedia the Funk & Wagnalls Company fulfil the promise made to their subscribers nearly eight years ago to supply the world at large with a full account of the history, views, and sociology of the Jewish people from their appearance in history down to the present day. The publishers feel that they may claim to have carried out their promise unstintingly, and with sole regard to thoroughness of workmanship. A few figures, which may be interesting in themselves, will suffice to substantiate this claim. The promise was made to provide twelve volumes containing 8,000 pages supplied by 400 contributors, and embellished by 2,000 illustrations. The twelve volumes contain 8,572 pages, written by 605 contributors, and supplemented by 2,464 illustrations, a large number of them full-page, with a considerable number of photogravures, and 23 reproduced in facsimile by lithographic process in colors. Of the merits of the work it is scarcely the publishers' place to speak, but the universal verdict of the press of the world has been that it presents its subjects in fulness of detail and with perfect impartiality of treatment. It has been the aim of the editorial board to present all sides of Jewish life from every standpoint held by any important section of the Jewish community. Imperfections there must needs be in a work of this scope, which has absolutely no forerunners by which it can be checked; but care has been taken to reduce these to a minimum by every device that has been suggested by the ingenuity of the editorial board or the experience of the publishing-house. In cases of doubt resort was had to the advice of the boards of consulting editors in Europe and America, especially on matters of general policy. During the making of the Encyclopedia the American board was unfortunately decreased by the regretted deaths of Dr. M. Mielziner and Dr. M. Jastrow, the latter of whom to the end of the second volume was editor of the Talmudic Department, and who showed his interest in the work by remaining a consulting editor till his death. The foreign board lost Prof. Moritz Lazarus, Dr. Eude Lolli, and Dr. Kayserling, the last of whom, besides acting as a consulting editor, contributed the largest number of articles to the Encyclopedia of all contributors other than the office staff.
The 8,168,957 words the presentation of which this volume completes have been selected for the reader from the 9,630,211 that were supplied by the contributors; or, in other words, one word out of every six has been eliminated in order to present the fullest amount of information within the space limits. By this use of the pruning-knife the alphabetical division of the volumes was made to coincide almost exactly with the schedule laid down before the first volume was issued. In this way alone it became possible to treat subjects in the later letters of the alphabet with just as much fulness as those in the earlier volumes.
As promised in the first volume, the Funk & Wagnalls Company repeat herewith the list of stanch friends of The Jewish Encyclopedia who by their loyal trust have rendered the production of these volumes practicable. In an enterprise of this kind, addressed in the first place to a special public, the support of that public during the progress of the work is as necessary for its adequate completion as is the literary ability of the editorial board or the executive capacity of the publishing-house. The promises of the list of patrons contained in the first volume encouraged the Funk & Wagnalls Company to undertake the work; the fulfilment has enabled them to carry it through to what may be fairly termed a triumphant conclusion. They hereby render their thanks to those who throughout this arduous undertaking have stood by their side as silent but very efficacious helpers.
Unfortunately, great discrepancies exist between the former list and that now presented to the reader. Through misunderstanding, through ill health, or through failure of means, a number of the original subscribers found themselves unable to carry out their engagements, and at one time the Funk & Wagnalls Company had in view the suspension of the work owing to this lack of support. At this juncture a number of public-spirited gentlemen in America undertook to guarantee the sale of a certain number of copies of the Encyclopedia, and others in England, headed by Sir Isidore Spielmann, made an earnest and successful appeal for increased subscription. Thus encouraged, the Funk & Wagnalls Company determined to continue in a task which, if it promised no adequate profit, seemed to them a worthy contribution to the higher life of America and of the world. Sustained by the support of these gentlemen, the Funk & Wagnalls Company have spared no pains or expense to carry out the plans of the editorial board in their entirety, and trust that the work now presented to the reader is a worthy outcome of American constructive scholarship and of American publishing enterprise.
The names of the American public-spirited gentlemen referred to above are as follows: