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Esther Jungreis (left) with April Foley, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary. Budapest, September 15, 2008

Esther Jungreis (born in Szeged, Hungary in 1936[1]) is the founder of the international Hineni movement in America. A Holocaust survivor, she has made it her life's mission to bring back Jews to Orthodox Judaism.

Contents

Biography

Jungreis spent her early childhood in Szeged, Hungary, where her father was chief rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community. Her maiden name was Jungreis (she married a distant cousin Theodore Jungreis; the name Jungreis was common in Hungary at the time with over 85 Orthodox rabbis having the surname).

She can trace her roots, "a great rabbinical dynasty, to King David". During World War II, her family was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; she and her father survived.

Rabbi Jungreis, the Rav of Szeged, was deported with other Jews from Szeged in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz. However a relative that worked for Rudolph Kastner’s office arranged that when the train from Szeged passed through Budapest the cattle car was opened and the entire Jungreis family went onto the Kastner train to Bergen Belsen. [2]

In 1947 they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she reconnected with distant cousin Theodore Jungreis, a rabbi. They married. She was called Rebbetzin, a Yiddish term of respect and endearment for the wife of a rabbi and, increasingly, a term of respect for an outstanding Orthodox female teacher of Judaism.

Eventually, they settled in North Woodmere, New York where Rabbi Jungreis led the Orthodox Congregation Ohr Torah. Together they raised four children. Rabbi Jungreis has died, but Rebbetzin Jungreis continues with her work. Now she lives in Lawrence, NY. [3]

Due to her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, she became "determined to devote her life to combating the spiritual holocaust that was occurring here in the United States." [4] This led to the birth of the Hineni Movement on November 18, 1973 in Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum.

Her outspoken stance against interfaith marriages, equating them with the Nazi Holocaust, while drawing criticism, is statistically supported.[1]

Along with Paysach Krohn, Jungreis has served as a guest speaker at the annual Shavuot retreat hosted by Gateways since 2005.

The Rebbetzin's Outreach Work

Hineni has since become a worldwide movement with centers all over the world. As a result, Rebbetzin Jungreis has spoken in locations such as the Hollywood Palladium, the Johannesburg Coliseum and Binyanei HaOuma in Jerusalem. She also speaks regularly for the United States Army and Navy as well as for the Israel Defense Forces. [4]

Writings

Rebbetzin Jungreis has written several books: Jewish Soul on Fire (William Morrow & Company - acclaimed one of the ten best Jewish books of the year by B'nai B'rith); The Committed Life: Principles of Good Living from Our Timeless Past (Harper Collins and translated into Hebrew, Russian and Hungarian and in its eighth edition) and The Committed Marriage (Harper Collins). For over forty years, she has written a column for The Jewish Press using the Torah as the source for solutions to everyday problems. Her latest book, published in 2006, is Life is a Test.

Awards, Recognition

Among those that have recognized the Rebbetzin for her work has been "Hadassah, The Jewish War Veterans, B’nai Brith. Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, Knights of Pythias, and the Christian Amita Society. She has been the keynote speaker at the joint convention of Reform and Conservative Rabbis in Palm Springs, and has spoken for the Rabbinical Council of America, O.R.T., Hadassah, U.J.A., Israel Bonds, Jewish War Veterans, the 2004 Republican National Convention, the Shomrim Society of the Police Department, B’nai Brith, Young Israel, Mizrachi, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Orthodox Jewish Teachers Association. She has been accorded recognition by the State of Israel and invited to address members of the Israel Defense Forces and has received awards from every branch of the service. The Rebbetzin has also been named “Woman of the Year” by Hadassah, Jewish War Veterans, B’nai Brith, Federation of Jewish Women’s Organizations, the Knights of Pythias, and the Christian Amita Society. [5]

External links

References

  1. ^ Sarna, Jonathan D.: American Judaism: a history, page 352. Yale University Press, 2004.
  2. ^ The Final Solution Is Life. Laura Deckelman as told by Rebbetzin Chana Rubin. Published by Mesorah Publications LTD. May 2000. Page 345
  3. ^ New Book By Rebbetzin Jungreis - 'Life Is A Test' - Five Towns Jewish Times
  4. ^ a b http://www.jewishpost.com/jp1003/jpn1003e.htm
  5. ^ Esther Jungreis' biography on The Harry Walker Agency Speakers Bureau website
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