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I have been trying to tune out all of the sad news about Michael Jackson passing away. This must be very hard on Michael Jackson’s three children whom he was raising. The two older children’s mother is Jackson’s ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who is Jewish. When the couple divorced in 1999, she signed over her parental rights to Jackson but later took him to court to contest the contract and win the right to become more involved in their lives. In 2006, the year after Jackson was acquitted of child molestation, Rowe won her case against Jackson in an appeals court, but later they settled out of court to leave the children in his custody.
The Los Angeles Jewish Journal reported that Ms. Rowe was upset that her children were being exposed to the Nation of Islam through their nanny and Rowe wanted them to exposed to her religion as well. According to the JTA, there are conflicting reports about whether Ms. Rowe will seek custody.
Jackson was a Jehovah’s Witness, as are his parents. He has one brother who converted to Islam. Jackson and his children spent a year in Bahrain in 2005 after his trial for child molestation, during which time he was seen in public in an abaya, a woman’s head covering, in order to maintain anonymity.
To complicate the story further, Jackson was also at one time a close friend and protégé of Rabbi Shmuely Boteach. At the time of Jackson’s death, he had not spoken with Boteach for five years. Boteach has expressed his sorrow for Jackson and his children.
I hope all of Michael Jackson’s children are able to make peace with their father’s death and remember him lovingly. I also wish Jackson’s two older children, son Prince Michael I, 12, and daughter Paris Michael Katherine, 11 are also given the opportunity to explore their Jewish heritage.
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