The Jewish Press joins with Klal Yisrael in mourning the passing of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, a”h, who launched what became a singular worldwide outreach phenomenon rooted in the emotional desolation and despair of post-World War II Jewry.
An intuitive master of human psychology and emotion, she sought and was destined to reach and nurture the Divine Spark of the Covenant that has resided in every Jew since Sinai but that the Holocaust threatened to overtake and overwhelm. And although her message was deeply rooted in Jewish faith – that all of the horror and pain was part of God’s Plan – she was able to minister to the most cynical and vulnerable among us on their own terms.
Her soaring insight, creativity, and erudition drew untold numbers to her message. She provided the perfect accompaniment to the miraculous renaissance of authentic Judaism in our day wrought by the revolution in Torah study, and she worked heroically as its champion.
Rebbetzin Jungreis was perhaps most closely identified with Hineni, the organization she created in 1973 to provide form and structure to her outreach work. In an April 2015 interview with Jewish Press publisher Naomi Klass Mauer, she described how the Hineni project proceeded. She spoke of the encouragement she received from her father, who had been a renowned rebbe in prewar Hungary, and other prominent rabbinic personalities. She spoke of seemingly haphazard and episodic inspirations and disparate events at different colleges and organizations and anxiety-filled encounters with potential financial donors along the way. But for all the appearance of serendipity, the guiding hand of the Divine was manifest.
Rebbetzin Jungreis wrote a weekly column for The Jewish Press for more than 50 years – she started it a decade before she founded Hineni and became internationally known – and from the beginning it was one of the paper’s most popular features. We are proud to have been able to help deliver her vital message.
Her August 19 Jewish Press column exemplified much of what drove her:
It is not Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood or Islamic State that I fear. Nor do I fear the United Nations, an institution notorious for its hypocrisy and anti-Israel bias. I do not fear the sophisticated intellectuals who camouflage their hatred of Jews behind politically correct pseudonyms that mislead all too willing ears.
What I do fear is our own people – yes, our own people who have forgotten who
we are, who no longer remember that we Jews stood at Sinai, that we heard the voice of God, that we belong to a priestly kingdom, a holy nation, and that everything that befalls us is choreographed by Hashem and is a reflection of our own deeds, our own hands.Editorial Board