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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘rebbetzin’

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016

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

To Honor The Rebbetzin

Friday, August 26th, 2016

Rav Yosef Ber Soloveichik, the giant of Torah from the yeshiva of Volozhin, was accepted as rav in the city of Slutzk. That city well understood the importance of Torah and the great honor bestowed upon it when it was able to attract a rav of Rav Yosef Ber stature.

Thus, on the appointed day of his arrival, a large crowd gathered to wait for the horse and carriage. When, in the distance, they saw them approaching, a great shout went up and the people rushed forward. Unhitching the horses they, themselves, pulled the wagon with the rav and his rebbetzin inside.

The people realized that the rav was very weary from the long journey and did not ask him to deliver a Torah discourse. One of the men, however, who was bold, approached the rav and asked:

“Rebbe, it has been a privilege for us to give you so much honor and we are overjoyed to have done it. But there is one thing I would like to ask you.

“You are deserving of all the honor that we give you because you have struggled long and hard to acquire Torah. You give of your days and your nights to learn and we must honor you because of it.

“But why, I ask, must we also honor your rebbetzin? After all, while I am sure she is a fine woman, she is no greater than other women. Why do we have to honor her also?”

The rav smiled and replied: “It is my obligation to answer any questions that concern me but as far as any questions that concern the rebbetzin, that is up to her to answer.”


The Reply

“Very well,” said the rebbetzin, without hesitation. “I have always wondered why a rav deserves honor from his congregants. If, as has been said, it is because he has learned Torah, he will get a reward for that in the World To Come, in Paradise! This is not the place for him to be rewarded.

“The answer however, is that we honor him because of the other aspect of his role. No human being is perfect and each of us makes mistakes. We sin and we err and we always need someone to criticize and guide us. This is why we hire a rav. He sees our imperfections and guides us along the proper way.

“But the question arises: The rav is also only human. Who is to guide him and correct him when he makes a mistake?

“The answer is the rebbetizin. She sees his faults and tells him what is wrong. Because of this you honor her.”


An Interesting Custom

In those days it was the custom on every Yom Tov for the congregants to accompany the rav from the shul to his home.

One Shavuos, the people of Slutzk walked their beloved rav home and ate with gusto the foods that the rebbetzin had cooked. When they had finished they waited for the customary divrei Torah.

Rav Yosef Ber however, realized that the people were more interested in getting home and eating than in listening to Torah and he said: “Now is not the time for Torah discourses. I will just explain to you the reason for the custom of walking the rav home after davening on Yomim Tovim.

“As we all know, a yom tov should be divided into two parts – half for Hashem and half for ourselves. Thus, the first part of the day we devote to Hashem by going to shul and davening with a great deal of kavanah.

“Then we go home and spend the next part of the day for ourselves by making kiddush and eating delicious foods.

Rabbi Sholom Klass

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Video of the Day

Outreach Pioneer And Longtime Jewish Press Columnist Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis Passes Away

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

For the statement by the Rebbetzin’s family, please click here.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, pioneer in Jewish outreach, founder of the international Hineni organization, and Jewish Press columnist for more than fifty years, passed away Tuesday at the age of 80.

Rebbetzin Jungreis was born in Szeged, Hungary, in 1936, where her father, HaRav Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, was chief rabbi.

In 1947, after going through the horrors of the concentration camps and the Holocaust, the Jungreis family arrived in Brooklyn, where the Rebbetzin married a distant cousin, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis. The couple settled in North Woodmere, New York, where Rabbi Jungreis was the spiritual leader of Ohr HaTorah.

The Rebbetzin and her husband embarked on a lifelong mission devoted to combating the ravages of secularization and assimilation in the United States.

It was in the early 1960s that Jewish Press publisher Rabbi Sholom Klass and his wife, Irene, met the Jungreises at the old Pioneer Country Club in upstate New York. Impressed by the Rebbetzin’s dynamic style and passion for helping others, the Klasses suggested she write a weekly column for the paper.

The column, Rebbetzin’s Viewpoint, soon debuted and became the longest running column in the history of The Jewish Press. Letters come to the Rebbetzin from readers all over the world who hoped to see their questions answered in the paper.

“I wanted the word ‘rebbetzin’ to be part of the column’s title,” Rebbetzin Jungreis said, “because I wanted young women to realize what a noble position it is to be a rabbi’s wife.”

In an interview last year with Naomi Klass Mauer, Rabbi Klass’s daughter and the current publisher of The Jewish Press, the Rebbetzin described her connection to the paper as a deeply personal one:

“Despite many offers from other periodicals,” she said, ‘I have only to picture your holy father and your very special mother, whom I loved, to know why I continue to write for The Jewish Press.”

Rebbetzin Jungreis’s interest in outreach – kiruv – went back to her girlhood years.

“The idea of bringing people back to Yiddishkeit was inside me from my childhood,” she told Mrs. Mauer. “It really started back when my father would encourage me to bring in the neighborhood children. But the older I got the more I realized how great the mission really was. I was asked to speak at a Young Israel collegiate convention. I looked out at the audience and told myself, ‘If I were to have an organization, I would speak to reach people, to wake people up. I would even speak in Madison Square Garden to students and young people. I would call it Rock and Soul, to wake up their souls.’

“From there the idea grew. My father was always encouraging me to reach out and before I officially started Hineni I asked him to take me to all the rabbanim for a berachah. He took me to chassidic rebbes and yeshivish rabbis, to Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yosef Soloveitchik, among others, and all gave me their blessings.”

Shortly after Hineni was launched in 1973, the Rebbetzin’s vision of speaking at Madison Square Garden became a reality, and Hineni became a worldwide movement, leading an uncountable number of Jews to Jewish observance.

Traveling the world to spread the message of Torah, the Rebbetzin somehow found the time to author several best-selling books including The Jewish Soul on Fire, The Committed Life, The Committed Marriage and Life Is a Test.

She was recognized by numerous world leaders for her work. She shared a mutual admiration with President George W. Bush – not only was she asked to deliver a benediction at the 2004 Republican National convention, President Bush also appointed her to serve on the honorary delegation that accompanied him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel in May 2008.

The Rebbetzin was not one to let advancing age prevent her from pursuing her outreach work, even a broken hip and a torn meniscus. Through her later years she lived life at a pace that would have exhausted someone half her age.

Asked about her vitality, she credited – what else? – Jewish Scripture.

“I take my inspiration from Tehillim,” she told Naomi Klass Mauer. “The psalm for the Sabbath day – Psalm 92, verses15-16: ‘They are vibrant and fresh even in ripe old age and proclaim how our Lord is right, His word inerrant.’ ”


Rebbetzin Jungreis is survived by her children Chaya Sora Gertzulin, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, Slovi Wolff, and Rabbi Osher Jungreis, and by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (The Rebbetzin’s husband passed away in 1996.)

The levayah took place Wednesday morning at the Agudath Israel of Long Island in Far Rockaway.

Jason Maoz

Prayers for Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

The family of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis has asked everyone to say Tehillim and pray for a Refuah Shelaima for Esther Bat Miriam, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Rebbetzin Yemima’s Remedy For Unblocked Blessing

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

When I attend a shiur by Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi, I am inspired to repeat her divrei Torah to anyone who will listen. Recently, she spoke beautifully on the topic of honoring parents. She said that Hashem wishes to bestow blessings, but in order for them to flow, we must be at peace with our parents. If there is friction with parents, then the blessings are blocked. Make peace, avoid dissent. Simple? No. Worth it? Yes! When I came home, I received a heart-rending message from a dear friend of mine who is involved in a year-long, ugly, custody battle. She was anxiety ridden about a pending decision that would determine the parameters of visitation. Could I call her when I returned home?

To add to her distress, this close friend has a lifetime history of complications in her relationship with her mother, her only living parent. Thus, she struggles without the benefit of family support.

It seemed too much of a coincidence that this particular friend called me on a night that I had learned something new about the power of honoring parents. She needed blessing in her life and had gone to great lengths in seeking ways to increase her personal merits. Since I love her, I did not wish to increase her suffering by bringing up the sore topic of her mother/daughter relationship. So, I offered up a silent prayer request to Hashem and asked that if I tell her that I went to the shiur, and she specifically asks what it was about, I will relay the message of kibbud horim being the remedy to unblock blessing.

I told her that I had just walked in the door from a Rebbetzin Yemima Mizrachi shiur. She asked, “What was the class about?” (Ding!) I relayed the shiur in detail and respectfully added that maybe it was time for her to reach out to her mother.

Her next words were so agonizing. She told me that as far as her mother is concerned she is an invisible daughter, and doesn’t even rank on her scale of interest. Her mother invents grudges against her and holds onto them. At the last simcha that they were invited to, they were seated at the same table and her mother ignored her the entire evening!

Sadly, all of those things were absolutely true, as I had witnessed them myself.

I had a flash of inspiration. I told her that I will call her mother and prepare her for the phone call. My friend was skeptical and also annoyed at my persistence. So I challenged her. I said, “If something good comes from all of this and suddenly you see a yeshua, it will have been worth it. If nothing comes of it, we can both go to Rabbanit Yemima and give her a piece of our minds!” She thought this was kind of funny, and we hung up on good terms.

Then, I called her mother. Her mother knows me for years and had always made me feel welcomed, despite the fact that I was privy to her rocky relationship with her daughter.

I explained that I called because I thought that she should know what is happening in her daughter’s life and to be aware of her sorrow. I told her how devastating it was for her daughter to petition and battle for the time that she spends with her own children.

To my utter surprise, her mother was extremely receptive. At the conclusion of our hour-long conversation, she told me that she instinctively felt that if they were to make up with each other, it would bring blessing into both of their lives!

Tzippy Erblich

8 Women Receive Orthodox Ordination in Largely Political Endeavor

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

On Tuesday night, according to a report by Ynet, eight women received certificates of Orthodox Jewish ordination in Jerusalem and selected for themselves various equivalents to the commonly used “Rav” or “Rabbi” by males: some picked “Rav,” instantly making the title unisex; others went with “Rabba,” which would be the female conjugation of the male title, although the term is not in everyday use; some went with “Rabbi,” which in the genderless English grammar has been a common title for Reform and Conservative women clergy for decades.

One preferred to go with “Doctor,” possibly recalling the shamanist attributes for which some Jewish scholars were once renowned. Or more simply, because she has a PhD, but no ordination.

No one went with the prevalent “Rebbetzin,” presumably because to become a Rebbetzin one doesn’t need to study, just marry well.

The ordination was given personally by Rabbi Daniel Landis, a YU graduate who is the head of the Pardes Institute, an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community, based in Jerusalem and operating programs worldwide. Landis is also a senior member of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC).

In his message to the freshly ordained Orthodox female rabbis, Landis explored the fact that his graduates are different from ordinary ordained Orthodox rabbis not merely because of their sex, but in their emphasis on Jewish studies, and on any studying at all for that matter:

“I very quickly abandoned the ambition to achieve only rabbinic expertise, and moved on to the more important initiative of promoting you as creative scholars, with integrity, sensitivity and courage, who have access to the members of their generation,” Landis said.

“Yes, but can they pasken on a chicken?” you might ask. It appears that ruling on the mundane needs of rank and file Orthodox Jews was not the top priority of this ordination, which is not a comment on the quality of scholarship of the graduates. They simply appear to put a different emphasis on their future roles in the Jewish community:

Rav Avital Campbell-Hochstein, one of the graduates, said at the ordination ceremony: “Receiving the ordination is not merely a score for knowledge. Ordination, or permission, like halakha itself, is focusing on human beings, on the image of God. Human beings must be seen and heard. The halakha and the Torah are sensitive to the slimmest signs of humanness.” And so, she continued, “in order for halakha, which is an emanation of the will of God, to be relevant and applicable, we must first and foremost be attentive. Human dignity is our driving force. Halakha can be a divider and it can be a meeting ground. It can be a wall and it can be a bridge. Choosing between those component depends on the human beings who use it, and who represent it.”

So, basically, no paskening on chickens for now. Instead, there was a lot of talk about advancing the status of women in halakha and in Orthodox society. You may have to rely on someone else for your kashrut decisions, but in areas of marriage, conversion, and burial, these ordained female rabbis will make sure, as Rav Naama Levitz-Applbaum put it, “that women will be counted, in the full meaning of the word, and to feel as full partners along the path.”

Perhaps as the number of ordained Orthodox female rabbis grows and as each ordination ceases to be viewed as a revolution and starts to be more commonplace (as has been the case in every profession women have entered over the past two centuries) we’ll start hearing about women Orthodox rabbis who are not so heavily invested in the feminist politics of their role but in caring for their congregations. At which point we should be able to assess this fledgling but growing movement not based on our political views but instead on the concrete scholarship and the halakhic contribution of these female rabbis. Because, let’s face it, Orthodox Jews need rabbis to interpret halakha for them. They have plenty of social workers doing everything else.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/8-women-receive-orthodox-ordination-in-largely-political-endeavor/2016/06/09/

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