Regina Jonas is ordained as the first female rabbi in the history of Judaism.
Regina Jonas was a pioneering figure in Jewish history as the first woman known to have been ordained as a rabbi. She was born on August 27, 1902, in Berlin, Germany, into a traditional Jewish family. Despite facing significant challenges and resistance, Jonas pursued her passion for Jewish studies and eventually became a trailblazer in the field.
In 1924, she began her studies at the Hochschule für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Higher Institute for Jewish Studies) in Berlin. Despite societal norms and opposition from many in the Jewish community who believed that women should not serve as rabbis, Jonas completed her studies and wrote a thesis on “Can a Woman Be a Rabbi According to Halachic Sources?” She defended her thesis in 1930 and received semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbi Max Dienemann, a liberal rabbi in Offenbach, Germany.
Following her ordination, Regina Jonas served as a rabbi in various capacities. She worked with youth groups, led religious services, and provided pastoral care. Her work was not widely recognized during her lifetime, and her ordination was not officially recognized by mainstream Jewish authorities.
Tragically, Regina Jonas’s life was cut short by the Holocaust. In 1942, she was deported to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. She continued to minister to fellow prisoners during her time in the camp. Sadly, she did not survive the Holocaust and was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.