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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Epitaph for German Judaism: From Halle to Jerusalem

(University of Wisconsin), by Emil Fackenheim

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German Jews were a small but significant minority, contributing greatly to their country’s culture until they were murdered or driven to exile by Hitler. Emil Fackenheim escaped shortly before the outbreak of World War II and became a philosophy professor at the University of Toronto and a rabbi serving the local Jewish community before emigrating to Israel in his final years. Epitaph is the last manuscript Fackenheim composed before his death in 2003, a compact memoir interesting not only for his life but his lifetime of reflection on the larger questions that eluded many 20th century philosophers. For Fackenheim, morality was not relative and evil was never an abstraction. He stared into the face of it and barely held on to his life.