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Holocaust

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Ruth Westheimer balanced unabashed practical advice about sexual health and safety with a playful sense of humor to educate the public and break down social taboos against discussing sex.

Ruth Klüger

Through her scholarship and her memoir about her experiences in the Holocaust, Ruth Klüger challenged popular assumptions about history, memory, and the role of women in society.

Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda Weissmann Klein used her experiences in the Holocaust to write children’s books that helped children grapple with difficult subjects.

Excerpts from the writings of Regina Jonas

The words of Regina Jonas continue to resonate with today’s rabbis. This past summer, at the dedication of a memorial plaque to Regina Jonas at Terezin by the United States Commision for the Preservation of American Heritage Abroad, the first four American women rabbis honored their foremother Regina Jonas by reading the passages from her writings excerpted below.    

Commemorating Rabbi Regina Jonas

This October marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Regina Jonas, the first woman ever ordained as a rabbi. Born in Berlin in 1902, Jonas began talking to friends about her desire to become a rabbi when she was still a teen, and later studied under Eduard Banath, who oversaw ordination for the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums, a liberal, nondenominational seminary in Berlin. But when Banath died in 1930, Jonas struggled to find another rabbi willing to ordain her. She argued brilliantly for the possibility of women becoming rabbis and eventually won over Rabbi Max Dienemann, executive director of the Conference of Liberal Rabbis, in 1935.

Tziporah H. Jochsberger

Having escaped the Holocaust on the strength of her musical talents, Tziporah H. Jochsberger went on to use music to instill Jewish pride in her students.

Elizabeth Holtzman

The youngest woman ever elected to Congress at age 32, Elizabeth Holtzman focused her political career on human rights.

Building a Memory

In Terezin, the US Commission for the Preservation of American Heritage Abroad sponsored the dedication of a plaque as a memorial. A day before traveling to Terezin, we saw Regina's papers, a small pile that must have been all that survived of a much larger collection. We stared at a photograph of her, the sole image that remained. In the formal portrait, she wore a rabbinic robe and her young face was dignified and serious. I yearned for photographs of her teaching, laughing, and loving, images of a full life. But there were none.

Honoring the Real First Woman Rabbi

For nearly thirty years I have had the good fortune to carry the title “first woman rabbi ordained in the Conservative Movement.” I have carried the designation with pride, at the same time knowing that I was a relative newcomer to the world of “first women rabbis.” After all, Rabbi Sally Priesand (the first woman Reform rabbi, ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972) and Rabbi Sandy Sasso (the first woman Reconstructionist rabbi, ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 1974) had preceded me by many years. Only this week did I come to know my forbear, Rabbi Regina Jonas, the first woman ever ordained a rabbi.

Haika Grosman

From Zionist leadership in war-wracked Europe to her career in the Israeli Knesset, Haika Grosman displayed uncommon strength of character and steadfastness to her ideals.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Holocaust." (Viewed on October 22, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/holocaust>.

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