[Forgotten Women] Rabbi Regina Jonas

This is the first part of a series on Al Miraah featuring forgotten women in which we tell the stories of groundbreaking women whose names are so often excluded from history.

Read part two: Lubna of Cordoba


Regina Jonas
Regina Jonas (via Jewish Women’s Archive)

In 1972, Sally Priesland was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and pronounced the ‘first ever female rabbi’. What was not known at the time, however, is that one remarkable woman had preceded her and had been ordained four decades earlier. Her name was Regina Jonas, and she was killed, along with so many others, in Auschwitz in 1944. Very little is known about her, and it is unlikely that we will ever be able to discover more. It was purely coincidental that her records were found in the obscure Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (The Archive of German Jews) in East Berlin in the 1990s. These records only became accessible after the wall came down, which explains why she was only rediscovered nearly half a century after her untimely death.

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