Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas: The Story of the First Woman Rabbi
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More About This Title Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas: The Story of the First Woman Rabbi


Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas tells the moving story of the woman who inspired a new kind of progressive female participation in the Jewish religion. Biographer Elisa Klapheck shows how Jonas overcame formidable resistance and obstacles from conventional orthodox Jewish institutions to become the first female rabbi. The book includes the text of Jonas’s definitive treatise on why women can indeed become rabbis, which is based on sound scripture from the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, and other precedents in Jewish halachic law, rabbinic commentary, and Jewish practice. After her ordination in 1935, Jonas spent the remaining years of her life ministering to the abused and terrified German Jewish community as the Nazis rapidly restricted and robbed it of property, identity, and social privilege, forcing the Jews into hard labor, poverty, and ultimately death camps. This moving portrayal of her life reveals Regina Jonas as a humorous and passionate woman who was deeply beloved by all she served during the terminal crisis of their lives.


Elisa Klapheck is an ordained rabbi in Berlin, Germany. For many years Klapheck also worked as a journalist for major German newspapers, radio, and TV and was formerly the editor-in-chief of Berlin’s Jewish monthly jüdisches berlin [Jewish Berlin].


List of Photos and Translations.

Foreword (Hermann Simon).



My Journey Toward Regina Jonas.

The Story of Regina Jonas.


Preliminary Notes: On the Halachic Treatise of Regina Jonas.

Halachic Treatise: Can Women Serve As Rabbis? (Regina Jonas).


Structure of the Talmud (According to Maimonides).

Additional Halachic Compendia and Commentaries.

The Author.

Name Index.

Subject Index.


“Rabbi Elisa Klapheck has recovered for us a vital gem in the history of female ordination. An exciting read! To follow Regina Jonas as she negotiated with the patriarchal system is a surprise and delight for the soul.”--Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, author, Wrapped in a Holy Flame: Teachings and Tales of  the Hasidic Masters

“A most intriguing story both about Jonas herself and Klapheck finding Jonas; the documents, many of which were reproduced for this volume, are riveting historical artifacts. This volume engenders admiration for a woman who had the inner strength to seek ordination when her social and religious milieu adamantly opposed leadership roles for women. This research pushes the beginnings of Jewish feminism, which is considered by most to have started in the United States in the 1970s, back to Germany in the 1930s.”--Judith Hauptman, E. Billi Ivry Professor of Talmud and Rabbinic Culture and author, Rereading the Rabbis, a Woman's Voice