Jerusalem rabbis to reopen Jewish status case

By James Martin, January 14, 2010

An Israeli whose Jewish status was put in question by the Jerusalem Beth Din is to have his case reheard after the Higher Rabbinical Court acknowledged a procedural error in the first hearing.

The case involves London-based actor Yossi Fackenheim, 30, the son of the noted Reform theologian Emil Fackenheim, who died in 2003. Because his mother was a convert, the two-year-old Yossi, like his siblings, underwent an Orthodox conversion in Canada.

In 2001, he married in Jerusalem in an Orthodox ceremony. But in August 2008, when he and his wife decided to divorce, he was told he was ineligible to give a get, or religious divorce, because his religious status had been questioned. His wife was later issued a get directly by the Beth Din.

Last May, Mr Fackenheim remarried in Tel Aviv under Reform auspices. Four months later he and his second wife had twins.

Anat Hoffman, of the Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC), said: “The Higher Rabbinical Court told us that the original verdict was reached with only one judge sitting, whereas they needed three.”

The decision to annul his conversion took Mr Fackenheim “completely by surprise. This has been a blight on my life.” He claimed it was an attempt to punish him as the son of a prominent Reform rabbi

Last updated: 4:38pm, January 14 2010