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Holocaust

"We Who Are Her Successors": Honoring Rabbi Regina Jonas

Our knowledge about Rabbi Regina Jonas has been limited. I had heard that she was ordained in Berlin, her thesis was on whether women could be rabbis, and that she had died during the Holocaust. I was intrigued, but there was not much more information to fill in the blank spaces. This trip has opened up a wealth of material about her life, her vision and her contributions.

Historic Berlin

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Schlesiches Tor, a historic station in Berlin, Germany, circa 1900.

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Creative Commons (attribution non-commercial share alike)

Schlesiches Tor, a historic station in Berlin, Germany, circa 1900.

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Before the Plane Trip, A Personal Journey

For many years, I resisted going to Germany or Eastern Europe, but when I learned about this trip to Berlin and Prague, I spoke without thinking: “I’d really like to go on that journey.”

Reflecting now on that immediate response (and the fact that I didn’t have second thoughts afterward), I’ve learned a few things about what has changed and what has crystallized for me, individually and, I think, as a member of my generation.

Selma Stern-Taeubler, 1950

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Selma Stern-Taeubler, pioneering archivist, 1950.
Photo by Jack Warner
Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute
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JWA use only on jwa.org
Contributor: Submitter
Benson, Stephen

Selma Stern-Taeubler, pioneering archivist, 1950.

Photo by Jack Warner

Courtesy of the Leo Baeck Institute

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Regina Jonas, circa 1939, Cropped

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Rabbi Regina Jonas in a photograph presumed to have been taken after 1939.
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JWA use only on jwa.org

Rabbi Regina Jonas in a photograph presumed to have been taken after 1939.

Remembering Rabbi Regina Jonas

I decided I wanted to be a rabbi when I was sixteen years old. At that time, I had never heard of Regina Jonas. I was well into my rabbinic training before one of my professors mentioned her to me. He knew her personally, having attended the same academic institution in Germany. I discovered, however, that very little had been written about her and that basically her story had been lost, as was the case for so many other women in the Jewish community whose stories were hidden away.

Regina Jonas Kiosk, Berlin, Germany, Cropped

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An image of Regina Jonas on a street kiosk in Berlin, Germany, part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”

An image of Regina Jonas on a street kiosk in Berlin, Germany, part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”

Regina Jonas Kiosk, Berlin, Germany, Cropped

regina_jonas_kiosk_cropped.jpg
An image of Regina Jonas on a street kiosk in Berlin, Germany, part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”
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JWA use only on jwa.org

An image of Regina Jonas on a street kiosk in Berlin, Germany, part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”

Related content:

Walking in the Footsteps of Regina Jonas

Walking out the door of my hotel room on the first day of my first trip to Berlin, (a trip I had determinedly avoided for many years), I was on guard and immediately caught off guard. As I entered the Hackescher Market just steps from the hotel, I found myself face to face with a large size portrait of Regina Jonas on a kiosk that also detailed her story. What was Rabbiner Jonas doing here? Why here? Why now?

Regina Jonas Kiosk, Berlin, Germany

regina_jonas_image.jpg
Kiosks featuring Regina Jonas in Berlin, Germany. Part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”
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JWA use only on jwa.org

Kiosks featuring Regina Jonas in Berlin, Germany. Part of a citywide exhibition titled “Diversity Destroyed: Berlin 1933-1938-1945.”

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Holocaust." (Viewed on February 14, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/holocaust>.

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