Rabbi Dr. J. Immanuel Schochet a native of Switzerland, is a world-renowned scholar, author and lecturer. Rabbi Dr. Schochet has written and lectured on the history and philosophy of Hasidism and on themes of Jewish thought and ethics. He is a well known member of the Chabad movement. The Toronto-based rabbi and Doctor of Philosophy has written over 30 books and lectures extensively on Jewish ethics and theology.
Schochet is a son of Rabbi Dov Yehuda and Sarah Schochet born in Telšiai (Telshe, Telz) Lithuania, and alumnus of the Telshe yeshiva. He served as rabbi in Basel, Switzerland from 1930 until 1947, and from 1947 to 1951 he served as chief rabbi of The Hague and the adjacent regional towns, in the Netherlands.
Shortly after emigrating to Toronto in 1951, Rabbi and Mrs. Schochet and most of their ten children joined the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. One source indicates a potential motivation might have been the involvement of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in saving the life of the youngest daughter of Rabbi Dov Yehuda Schochet after she had suffered severe burns.
Schochet is an authority on Jewish Philosophy, Mysticism and Chabad Hasidism. He has written 35 books, mostly on the history and philosophy of Chabad Hasidism. Other topics included biographies of the founder of modern Hasidism the Baal Shem Tov and the second generational leader of Hasidism Dov Ber of Mezeritch. Other published works focus on Chabad Hasidism and topics related to that Hasidic school of thought, including: Mystical Concepts in Chassidism, The Mystical Dimension (3 volumes), and annotated translations of the classical Hasidic texts Tanya, Tzava'at Harivash, and Likkutei Sichot.
Schochet is editor of critical editions of the principal Hasidic texts Keter Shem Tov, Tzava'at Harivash, Maggid Devarav Leyaakov and Or Torah.
Schochet is professor-emeritus of Philosophy, and Comparative Religion, at Humber College, in Toronto, Canada
Served as adjunct-professor on Jewish Bioethics at University of Toronto Medical School, and professor of Jewish Law and Philosophy, and dean of degree studies at Maimonides College in Toronto.
Rabbinic career For 37 years he was the rabbi of Kielcer Congregation in Toronto, Canada, and since 1996 he served as rabbi of Cong. Beth Joseph. Schochet is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. Controversies
'Other movements within Judaism' In his book Who is a Jew he states: "There can be peaceful co-existence on the communal level, and even cooperation in matters of common concerns; but there is no common ground on the religious-doctrinal level. 'Reform' and 'conservative' can live with 'orthodox' standards and recognize the titular status of 'orthodox' rabbis. After all, 'orthodox' rabbis are ordained on the basis of their proficiency in knowledge and adjudication of Jewish law (Shulchan Aruch). This will not work in reverse, however, because the requirements for conservative and reform ordination are altogether different.".
Regarding Jews who practice Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and other streams of Judaism, Schochet stated: "To be sure, we must condemn wrong and misleading ideologies and practices. But simultaneously we must be of the disciples of Aaron the High Priest: Loving peace and pursuing peace, loving our fellow-creatures and bringing them near to the Torah'!".
'Who is a Jew?' Main article: Who is a Jew? Regarding the issue of 'Who is a Jew' that arose in Israeli politics in the 1970s, Rabbi Schochet was a leading proponent for amending the Israeli Law of Return to recognize only halachic (orthodox) conversions, as opposed to conversions performed by non-Orthodox movements.
He published a book entitled Who Is A Jew? on the subject, wherein he rejects the notion that Jews are a part of one race or that Jewishness is a nationality. Instead he stated that Jews are united by their Judaism.
Schochet adheres to the classical definition of a Jew as "those who partook in the original covenant of the Jewish faith, which established the eternal bond between God, Torah and Israel, and those who decided to join this covenant at later stages, they and their descendants are Jews.".
'Kabbalah Centre' Schochet is an opponent of the the Kabbalah Centre, accusing it of distorting the teachings of the Kabbalah. He has characterized their actions as cultish practices. In 2007, Schochet called the teachings of the Kabbalah Centre "rubbish"; stating, "it's phony; it's manipulative; it has no spirituality whatsoever. It's not related to the authentic Kabbalah.".
Chabad Messianism and modern Orthodoxy He wrote Mashiach: The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition, which has been translated into eight languages.