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Excerpts from the writings of Regina Jonas

Regina Jonas in a photograph presumed to have been taken after 1939. Her stamp on the back of the photograph bears the compulsory name of "Sara," which all Jewish women had to bear after 1939 and reads "Rabbi Regina Sara Jonas."
Courtesy of Stiftung "Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum," Berlin

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.    

I believe that the question of whether a woman may make halachic decisions as a Rabbinerin may very clearly be seen as permitted, and it is not necessary to continue to linger over this matter . . . Just as both female doctors and teachers in time have become a necessity from a psychological standpoint, so has the female rabbi. There are even some things that women can say to youth, which cannot be said by the man in the pulpit. Her experiences, her psychological observations a profoundly different from those of a man, therefore she has a different style . . . If Jewish culture is to be maintained, the woman must contribute particularly in this way and both sexes must deliver their great service. (From Can Women Serve as  Rabbis, 1930)

I hope a time will come for all of us in which there will be no more questions on the subjects of “woman”: for as long as there are questions, something is wrong. But if I must say what drove me as a women to become a rabbi, two elements come to mind: My Belief in the godly calling and my love for people. God has placed abilities and callings in our hearts, without regard to gender. Thus each of us has the duty, whether man or woman, to realize those gifts God has given. If you look at things this way, one takes woman and man for what they are: human beings. (From the women’s page of Central-Verein-Zeitung, June 23, 1938)

I came to my profession with the religious feeling that God does not oppress any human being, and that man is not supposed to rule woman or hold a position of spiritual supremacy over her. I came to it thinking of final and complete mental, spiritual and moral equality between both sexes, created by a just and merciful God. (1939)

We are living today in a time of trial by fire, testing the strength of our love for children, gratitude, the mutual support of family and friends in these alien conditions. Many people wanted, in spite of all obstacles, to preserve a true sense of Jewish family and peoplehood. Our sages say that the Torah was only given to Israel when the people presented guarantees, and only after they offered their children as guarantees to God. If worry and despondency seek our undoing, the we should think about Yizkor in such a way that we identify ourselves as “arevim tovim” (good guarantees), standing up for Israel, carrying on the work of our ancestors from Sinai . . . and to thank God sincerely that Yizkor has become the celebration of our souls.” (undated)

Topics: Holocaust, Rabbis
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very much impressed by this woman who became a rabbi in very difficult circumstances and took care of the Wordof the Lord an was compaasionate to people in the most difficult circumstances in Theresienstadt.

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How to cite this page

Metal, Tara. "Excerpts from the writings of Regina Jonas ." 29 September 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 3, 2024) <http://jwa.org/blog/excerpts-from-writings-of-regina-jonas>.