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Holocaust

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.    

Gesela Konopka circa 1990s

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Gesela Konopka circa 1990s.
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Gesela Konopka circa 1990s.

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.

Hedwig Kohn circa 1950

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Physicist Hedwig Kohn in her office at Wellesly College, circa 1950, at about the time she received a research award.
Courtesy of Brenda Winnewisser.
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Physicist Hedwig Kohn in her office at Wellesly College, circa 1950, at about the time she received a research award.

Courtesy of Brenda Winnewisser.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

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Psychologist, radio personality, and writer, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Taken by Marianne Rafter.

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Psychologist, radio personality, and writer, Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Taken by Marianne Rafter.

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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.

Rabbi Sandy Sasso at Prague Jewish Cemetery, Cropped

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Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and guide in the Prague Jewish Cemetery.
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JWA use only on jwa.org

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and guide in the Prague Jewish Cemetery.

Rabbi Sandy Sasso at Prague Jewish Cemetery

sandy_sasso_in_prague_cemetery_.jpg
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and guide in the Prague Jewish Cemetery.
Rights
JWA use only on jwa.org

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and guide in the Prague Jewish Cemetery.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Holocaust." (Viewed on May 4, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/holocaust>.

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