Jerusalem’s rabbinic court erred and overstepped its authority last year when it retroactively declared that the converted, Canadian-Israeli son of prominent Jewish philosopher Emil Fackenheim was in fact a non-Jew, the court’s ombudsman ruled earlier this month.
Eliezer Goldberg, the former Supreme Court justice and State Comptroller who monitors rabbinic court activity, rejected the ruling made in August 2008 by Jerusalem rabbinic judge Yissachar Dov Hagar regarding Yossi Fackenheim, the 30-year-old son of the late Holocaust survivor, esteemed theologian and Reform rabbi.
Hagar – who was reviewing Yossi Fackenheim’s divorce from his former wife Iris, unexpectedly declared that he "was not and had never been Jewish," despite the man’s ultra-Orthodox conversion in Canada at the age of two. Therefore, the judge concluded, there was no need for a formal get, or divorce document.
The couple married in 2001 in Jerusalem in a ceremony conducted by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate, which years earlier had approved the conversion he underwent with his mother in Toronto prior to the family immigrating to Israel in 1984.
In his complaint to Goldberg, Yossi Fackenheim – who has no children – said a simple divorce had "unnecessarily turned into a humiliating expulsion" from the Jewish people. "The judge also made derogatory remarks about my profession," Fackenheim – an actor studying for his master’s degree at London University – told Anglo File. "I came completely unprepared and didn’t think for one minute I’d walk out with a document expelling me from my people."