Emil Fackenheim


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Emil Fackenheim (1916-2003) was a noted Jewish philosopher and rabbi. Fackenheim was born in Halle, Germany. In 1935 he moved to Berlin where he entered the rabbinical program at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums; he also began a degree in philosophy at the University of Halle. On the night of November 9,1938, known as Kristallnacht, he was arrested by the  Nazis.
After several months at the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen (1938–1939), in the spring of 1940 he fled to Aberdeen, Scotland,  where his parents joined him later. Emil's brother who refused to leave Germany was murdered by Germans.
Fackenheim left for Canada in 1940, where he received  Ph.D. at University of Toronto (1945) and became Professor of Philosophy (1948–1984).
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 commandment, referring to the 613 commandments (mitzvot) given to the Jews in the Torah.