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Holocaust

Visiting the Regina Jonas Archive at the Centrum Judaicum

Our trip officially began Tuesday morning with participants sharing key words or phrases that captured the ideas, feelings, or intentions with which they were embarking on the first day. Some focused on Regina Jonas—honoring her, standing on her shoulders. Others spoke more generally about women, noting their interest in the "place of women in different worlds," or "a passion for women." And they came to the day with varied emotions—anticipation, anxiety, optimism, seeking “internal reconciliation” and hoping to “find themselves” here.

Women Rabbis at Regina Jonas Archive

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Women rabbis at an historic evening at the Regina Jonas Archive, Centrum Judaicum, New Synagogue (Orienstrasse Synagogue) in Berlin, Germany.
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Women rabbis at an historic evening at the Regina Jonas Archive, Centrum Judaicum, New Synagogue (Orienstrasse Synagogue) in Berlin, Germany.

The "Lost" Story of Regina Jonas

A major theme of our shared JWA/AJA journey is the recovery of the lost narrative of Regina Jonas. We are here in the company of America’s pioneering women rabbis to bring Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas back into the story we tell of them and those who followed.

Confronting Germany

I have never been to Germany before, and this is no accident. My mother, who lost extended family members in the Holocaust, raised me not to buy German products. I do not walk on the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, for it is sacred. I did not go to Germany, because it was the very opposite of sanctity. The sound of the German language made me cringe; it was the sound of the Nazis. But over the decades, I had come to be in relationship with young Germans who were profoundly remorseful about the Holocaust. I was ready to explore a new personal relationship with the German people, and to travel there when the right opportunity presented itself. This trip is that opportunity.

S. Deborah Ebin

The daughter of Mizrachi movement leader Rabbi Aaron M. Ashinsky, S. Deborah Ebin helped the group American Mizrachi Women rescue a staggering number of children from Europe during and after WWII.

Sophia Dubnow-Erlich

Sophia Dubnow-Erlich’s socialist views were reflected both in her acclaimed poetry and in her passionate activism.

"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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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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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Holocaust." (Viewed on February 8, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/holocaust>.

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