BookJacketRegina Jonas–a Jewish woman born in Berlin in 1902 who died in Auschwitz in 1944–was the first woman on record to be ordained as a Rabbi.

Although she had been a teacher for decades and served in a quasi-clerical role for Jewish social service organizations, Jonas wasn’t actually ordained until 1935, when all German Jews who had the means to do so had already started to flee from the Nazi Regime.

This fascinating story (well-researched by Elisa Klapheck) had the makings of a terrific documentary film, & award-winning Hungarian filmmaker Diana Groo even had actress Rachel Weisz on hand to give voice to the various letters & sermons Jonas had the foresight to preserve before she was sent to Theresienstadt in 1942.

But alas, Groo decided to go wispy & oblique, making the narrative thread of Jonas’s actual life story almost impossible to discern. What a waste :-( (JLH: 3/5)

Click HERE to read our FF2 Haiku. Click HERE to read more about Regina Jonas in the Jewish Woman’s Archive.

Note for khaverim who use the New Reform Prayerbook Mishkan T’Filah: You will find these words from Rabbi Regina Jonas on the bottom of page 165 –>”God has placed abilities and challenges in our heart, without regard to gender. Each of us has the duty, whether man or woman, to realize those gifts God has given.”


Photo Credit: According to filmmaker Diana Groo, this is the only known photograph ever taken of Regina Jonas. As far as I can tell, the exact date is unknown (as well as the name of the photographer who took it), but since it also graces the cover of Elisa Klapheck’s book Fraulein Rabbiner Jonas, there may be more details there…

NYJFF NOTE: George Weisz (father of Rachel Weisz) is one of the producers of Regina & has optioned the rights for a feature film. Rachel Weisz is a terrific actress–in fact one of our favorites–so she could surely do a splendid job if she decides to take this on in future.

George Weisz attended the 1/13/14 screening & did a brief introduction. Diana Groo, who is from Hungary, was also there.She did a Q&A after the credits rolled. She said she had worked on the film for 7 years. “My primary concern was her personality,” said Groo, “not the fact that she was the first female Rabbi.”

Neither Weisz nor Groo specified how they first came to know each other. Groo only said “George Weisz [who was also born in Hungary] stood behind this film from the beginning.”

They are currently working together now on a new film about a Hungarian Blood Libel case.

Tags: Rachel Weisz, Regina Jonas
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