Esther Jungreis

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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 works to bring Jews to Orthodox Judaism.


Jungreis spent her early childhood in Szeged, Hungary. Her father, Abraham, was an Orthodox rabbi and operated a little Shtiebel in the city;[2] Szeged's small Orthodox population never seceded from the Neolog majority, and the local Jewish community remained unified under chief rabbis Leopold and Immanuel Löw.[3] Her maiden name was Jungreis (she married a distant cousin Theodore Jungreis. Rabbi Jungreis 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 so-called Kastner train to Switzerland.[4]

In 1947 they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she reconnected with distant cousin Theodore Jungreis, a rabbi. They married. She is called Rebbetzin, a Yiddish term which means "rabbi's wife."

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.[5]

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."[6] 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.[vague][7]

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

Outreach work[edit]

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.[6]


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[edit]

Among those that have recognized the Rebbetzin for her work are B'nai B'rith. 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 B'rith, 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 B'rith, Federation of Jewish Women's Organizations, the Knights of Pythias, and the Christian Amita Society.[8]

President George W. Bush appointed Jungreis to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.[9]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Sarna, Jonathan D.: American Judaism: a history, page 352. Yale University Press, 2004.
  2. ^ Szanto T. Gabor. Szeged, Hires Varos (Szeged, the Famous City). Szombat, 27 August 2009. [Hungarian].
  3. ^ Rivka Dorfman, Ben-Zion Dorfman. Synagogues Without Jews: And the Communities That Built and Used Them. Jewish Publication Society, 2000. ISBN 9780827606920. p. 284.
  4. ^ The Final Solution Is Life. Laura Deckelman as told by Rebbetzin Chana Rubin. Published by Mesorah Publications LTD. May 2000. Page 345
  5. ^ New Book By Rebbetzin Jungreis - 'Life Is A Test' - Five Towns Jewish Times
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^ Esther Jungreis' biography on The Harry Walker Agency Speakers Bureau website
  9. ^