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The First Woman Rabbi: Uncovering the Story of Regina Jonas

Regina Jonas was the first woman known to have been ordained as a rabbi. She was ordained in 1935 in Berlin, and went on to serve in that community as a Judaic studies teacher and chaplain. In 1942, she was deported to Terezin, where she served as the rabbi of the camp community—teaching, giving sermons, and offering pastoral care to her fellow prisoners. In 1945, she was deported to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. In this program, taught by JWA’s Rabbinic Intern Sarah Mulhern, participants learn about and honor the memory of Rabbi Regina Jonas. Her story has in some ways been hidden until recently and is not very widely known, so in addition to learning about her remarkable achievements, participants also think together more broadly about which stories we tell and which we do not, why this is, and what impacts this has on us and our communities.

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Regina Jonas
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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

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "The First Woman Rabbi: Uncovering the Story of Regina Jonas." (Viewed on December 14, 2017) <https://jwa.org/teach/profdev/webinars/2017/the-first-woman-rabbi>.

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