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Emil Fackenheim facts for kids

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Emil Ludwig Fackenheim
Born 22 June 1916
Halle/Saale, Province of Saxony, German Empire
Died 18 September 2003(2003-09-18) (aged 87)
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Continental philosophy
Main interests
  • The Holocaust
  • Radical Evil
  • Israel
  • Tikkun Olam
Notable ideas
  • 614th Commandment

Emil Ludwig Fackenheim (22 June 1916 – 18 September 2003) was a noted Jewish philosopher and Reform rabbi.

Born in Halle, Germany, he was arrested by Nazis on the night of 9 November 1938, known as Kristallnacht. Briefly interned at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (1938–1939), he escaped with his younger brother Wolfgang to Great Britain, where his parents later joined him. Emil's older brother Ernst-Alexander, who refused to leave Germany, was killed in the Holocaust.

Held by the British as an enemy alien after the outbreak of World War II, Fackenheim was sent to Canada in 1940, where he was interned at a remote internment camp near Sherbrooke, Quebec. He was freed afterward and served as the Interim Rabbi at Temple Anshe Shalom in Hamilton, Ontario, from 1943 to 1948. After this he enrolled in the graduate philosophy department of the University of Toronto and received a PhD from the University of Toronto with a dissertation on medieval Arabic philosophy (1945) and became Professor of Philosophy (1948–1984). He was among the original Editorial Advisors of the scholarly journal Dionysius. In 1971, he received an honorary doctorate from Sir George Williams University, which later became Concordia University.

Fackenheim researched the relationship of the Jews with God, believing that the Holocaust must be understood as an imperative requiring Jews to carry on Jewish existence and the survival of the State of Israel. He emigrated to Israel in 1984.

"He was always saying that continuing Jewish life and denying Hitler a posthumous victory was the 614th law," referring to the 613 mitzvot given to the Jews in the Torah.

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