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Regina Jonas, the first woman rabbi, is honoured in a new graphic novel

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Published: 26 July 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

An Israeli art student has dedicated her final project to the story of Fraulein Rabbinerin Jonas, who was ordained in 1935 and killed in the Holocaust.

For several months, Noa Mishkin, a graduate student in the Program in Visual Communication of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, drew historical illustrations for each day of the year.

Last year, on December 27 she entered Wikipedia and searched for an event that suited that day. She was surprised to discover that on that very date in 1935, a woman was ordained as a rabbi for the first time. 

“Until then, I had only heard of women of the Reform Judaism denomination who were allowed to be ordained as a rabbi in the 1970s,” says Mishkin, who defines herself as a religious feminist.

“When I had to choose a topic for my final project, it was only natural for me to choose her,” says Mishkin, who illustrated a graphic novel about Jonas’ life. The book, Like a Burning Fire: Following Regina Jonas, created under the supervision of Amit Trayinin, is now on display at the Bezalel Alumni Exhibition.

The book presents illustrations in shades of orange and blue that accompany quotes from Jonas. In a text from 1930, she wrote: “I believe that the question of whether a woman is allowed to make halakhic decisions as a rabbi can be given a clear and positive answer, and that there is no need to dwell on this matter. Just as doctors and teachers have become psychologically necessary over time, so has the role of a woman rabbi.”

Right afterward, Jonas added: “Almost nothing from a halakhic point of view, apart from prejudices and ignorance, stands against women serving as rabbis.”

First Woman Rabbi Is Honoured in New Graphic Novel, Decades After She Perished in Holocaust (Haaretz)

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