Remembering Rabbi Regina Jonas
For Tammuz-Av 5776 / July August 2018
Born Berlin, Germany August 3, 1902
Perished at Auschwitz in October 12, 1944
29 Tammuz 5662- 25 Tishrei 5705
First woman Rabbi in 20th century Germany.
Regina Jonas completed her Rabbinical studies at the Hochschule, (Academy for the Science of Judaism) but was denied ordination /S’michah by her teachers, who feared disapproval from the traditional community. She later received private ordination, in December of 1935, from Rabbi Max Dienemann of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis. Her thesis was on the Jewish legal basis /Halachah for ordaining women as rabbis.
She served as a pastoral counselor and hospital chaplain during the difficult 1930’s and was a frequent speaker in synagogues and Jewish lay groups. In 1942 Regina Jonas was deported, with her mother, to Theresienstadt camp, where she continued ministering to the other prisoners.
While still doing crisis intervention work (along with Victor Frankl) Rabbi Regina Jonas was taken to Auschwitz on October 12, 1944 where she was presumably killed.
Her papers were recovered in an archive after the war, and became the basis for the biography written by Rabbi Elisa Klapheck. There is a also a charming film about her entitled: “In the Footsteps of Regina Jonas.”
During this month of Av,we commemorate the destruction of the ancient Jewish temples in Jerusalem, with a fast on the Ninth of Av, Tisha b’Av. This seemed like an appropriate time to recall a heroine whose contributions to Jewish life were tragically cut short by the Shoah.
Rabbi Leah is a published author, researcher and teacher. Much of her work has focused on the feminine (both divine and human) in Jewish tradition.
Rabbi Leah: Kabbalah by the Sea