Fackenheim, Emil L. - In Memoriam

Emil L. Fackenheim, one of the leading Jewish scholars of the 20th century, died in Jerusalem on September 19, 2003. Born in Halle, Germany, in 1916, Fackenheim enrolled at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Academy of Jewish Studies) in Berlin, where he studied with Leo Baeck. He was imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp after Kristallnacht (November 1938), and shortly after his release in March, 1939, emigrated to Canada. He served as rabbi at Temple Anshe Sholom in Hamilton, Ontario, 1943-48, and as professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, 1948-84. He subsequently made aliyah and became a fellow of the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Emil Fackenheim was perhaps best known for his insistence that, after the Shoah, the Jewish people has an obligation to survive. The 614th commandment, he wrote, is that ?Jews are forbidden to hand Hitler posthumous victories.”

Prof. Fackenheim?s autobiography is to be published in November, 2003, by the University of Wisconsin Press under the title An Epitaph for German Judaism: From Halle to Jerusalem. Among his other works are The Religious Dimension in Hegel?s Thought (1968), God?s Presence in History: Jewish Affirmations and Philosophical Reflections (1970), Encounters Between Judaism and Modern Philosophy (1973), The Jewish Return into History: Reflections in the Age of Auschwitz and a New Jerusalem (1978), To Mend the World: Foundations of Future Jewish Thought (1982), Quest for Past and Future: Essays in Jewish Theology (1983), What is Judaism: An Interpretation for the Present Age (1987), and The Jewish Bible after Auschwitz: A Re-reading (1990). Selections from his writings are available in The Jewish Thought of Emil Fackenheim: A Reader, edited by Michael L. Morgan (1987).

Franklin Sherman