Scholars and journalists have long been fascinated by the far, obscurereaches of the Jewish diaspora. But most of the attention has gone to the"Marrano" communities of Spain and Latin America and the Jewish exilecommunity in China. James R. Ross, in this useful new book, takes us toUganda, India, and other scattered lands in search of groups, some assmall as several hundred members, that claim either Jewish ancestry orpresent-day commitment to the religion's practices.

As Ross acknowledges at the start, such non-normative Jews are immediatelysuspect to many Israelis, who fear that Judaism is being used by poorforeigners to gain Israeli citizenship under the country's Law of Return,which nationalizes all Jews who choose to move to Israel. "Undoubtedly,"Ross writes, "some of them are economic opportunities thatmight await them in Israel. Yet I was convinced that nearly everyone I metwas sincere in his or her commitment to Judaism." It is clearly one ofRoss's goals to support these Jews in their efforts to be recognized assuch, and to subtly chastize orthodox rabbis who throw roadblocks in theirway.

Ross's writing can grow tiresome; his case studies never spring to life asone would hope. He is relentlessly sympathetic to his subjects, perhaps toa fault. Yet his book fills a void in the literature, and will become astandard work in Judaica.