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Rabbis

The Sacred Calling: Reimagining Role Models

My rabbinical association recently asked me to join their mentoring program. This request felt surreal to me. Eight years after ordination is practically nothing in terms of rabbinical experience, and, at 34, I’m still younger than some new ordinees. For much of my career, I’ve been told that I couldn’t possibly have enough “life experience” to be a rabbi myself. What could I possibly teach a colleague?

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

by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

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.

The "Lost" Story of Regina Jonas

by Karla Goldman

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.

German Leaders Speak Out Against Anti-Semitism

by Gail Reimer

Just days before leading German newspapers called for an end to hatred against Jews, our group heard from two German dignitaries who were deeply concerned about the new wave of anti-Semitism infusing protests against Israel’s operations in Gaza. Both MP Volker Beck and Sybilla Bendig of the Foreign Office were clearly shocked by slogans and chants they didn’t think possible in postwar Germany.

Commemorating Rabbi Regina Jonas

by Lisa Batya Feld

October of 2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the death of Regina Jonas, the first woman ever ordained as a rabbi. But after her death in Auschwitz, Jonas was forgotten, unmentioned, and it was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall that her papers—and her story—came to light again.

Honoring the Real First Woman Rabbi

by Rabbi Amy Eilberg

Rabbi Regina Jonas’s story had been written out of history twice—once because the Nazis robbed her of life and again because the post-war Jewish community was unready to celebrate her story.

Connecting Across the Divide

by Gail Reimer

The pioneering American women rabbis who were the first to be ordained by their denominations joined with their counterparts in Europe in a public forum to talk about their journeys to the rabbinate and experiences as rabbis. Or that was the plan.

Visiting the Regina Jonas Archive at the Centrum Judaicum

by Gail Reimer

As we began our trip, some participants 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.

Building a Memory

by Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

We stared at a photograph of Regina Jonas, 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.

Confronting Germany

by Rabbi Amy Eilberg

I have never been to Germany before, and this is no accident. 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.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Rabbis." (Viewed on July 27, 2016) <http://jwa.org/topics/rabbis>.

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