Michael Jackson and His Interfaith Kids


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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4 thoughts on “Michael Jackson and His Interfaith Kids”

  • I feel sad for anyone who has lost a parent. I wonder, however, what is harder for MJ’s kids: his sudden death of previous multiple child molestation cases? Death of a parent or a loved one does not carry stigma. Having a father who molests children does. I feel bad for his kids but I can’t keep thinking if his death is a smaller trial for them than the quality of his public face.

  • I hope that this is not the case, but the two previous commentators seem to be projecting an attitude that a convert to Judaism is less than a full Jew and the motivations and practices of Debbie Rowe are questionable as a result. I find this attitude more abhorrent than apparent idol-worship that has surrounded Michael Jackson’s celebrity status.

  • I disagree with the article “Michael Jackson & His Interfaith Kids” on two counts. (a) These kids need normalcy in their lives. Just because Debbie Rowe is a convert to Judaism, which she may or may not still be practicing, that doesn’t make her automatically a better influence. The little I’ve seen of her since this tragedy has not shown her in good light. She was shouting and swearing at the TV people sounding like a fishwife. Also, she was very easily put off in her quest to be in her children’s lives. She has had just about zero contact for more than half their lives. I personally would prefer these children grow up in a loving and peaceful home without Judaism than be subjected to more chaos and craziness even with the advantages of Jewish teachings. (b) There are three children in that family. These children are too young to know the circumstances of their conceptions. All they know at this stage is that they are siblings. Why differentiate between the two older and the one younger just because of the Jewish connection?

  • Rowe converted to Judaism when she married a Jew, well before her marriage to Michael Jackson, and has voluntarily had little to no contact with her children. These kids don’t know Debbie Rowe and there would be no particular reason for them to feel Jewish or want to explore Judaism. I hope they will be raised in whatever religion — Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness — they are familiar with and in a far more normal fashion than they have been until now.

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