Fackenheim, Emil L(udwig) 1916-2003

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FACKENHEIM, Emil L(udwig) 1916-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born June 22, 1916, in Halle, Germany; died September 19, 2003, in Jerusalem, Israel. Rabbi, educator, and author. Fackenheim was a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto whose writings often centered on the subject of the Holocaust. Educated largely in Germany as the Nazis were claiming power over that country, he attended Martin Luther University and the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin. Arrested in 1938 by the Nazis and placed in a concentration camp, he managed to get himself released by agreeing to leave the country. He did so, after passing his rabbinical exams and being ordained a rabbi in 1939, fleeing to Scotland, where he studied at the University of Aberdeen for a year. However, he found himself in trouble again with the authorities, who considered him a possible threat, and he was deported to Canada. Once there, Fackenheim spent more time in a prison camp in Quebec before he finally attained his freedom. He led a congregation in Hamilton, Ontario for several years, and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1945. After leaving his Hamilton congregation in 1948, Fackenheim joined the University of Toronto faculty, where he taught until his retirement in 1984. Afterward, he moved to Israel and continued to teach at Hebrew University for several more years. As a scholar, Fackenheim was interested in the work of philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Kant, and Hegel, but he also often wrote about the significance of the Holocaust for Jewish theology and of the importance of Jews maintaining their cultural and religious identity after the war, noting that it was important not to become assimilated into the cultures of other countries. Among Fackenheim's many publications are The Religious Dimension of Hegel's Thought (1968), Encounters between Judaism and Modern Philosophy: A Preface to Future Jewish Thought (1973), To Mend the World: Foundations of Future Jewish Thought (1982; second edition, 1989), The Jewish Bible after the Holocaust: A Re-reading (1990), and Jewish Philosophers and Jewish Philosophy (1996). His last book, an autobiography, was published in 2003.



Encyclopedia of World Biography, second edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Chicago Tribune, September 22, 2003, Section 4, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, September 22, 2003, p. B11.

New York Times, October 13, 2003, p. A16.

Times (London, England), September 25, 2003.

Washington Post, September 22, 2003, p. B4.