Regina Jonas was determined to become a rabbi, but she faced nearly insurmountable opposition.
While other girls played house, she played rabbi, pretending to read Torah to her toy animals. She took every opportunity to learn, studying first with her father and then with the rabbi of her synagogue. She kept on studying, but at the last moment she was prevented from taking the examination that would allow her to achieve her goal. At every step she was cautioned to concentrate on domestic skills or told to stop causing trouble. As a schoolteacher, she taught Jewish girls about Miriam, Esther, and Deborah, strong Jewish women in the Bible, and never gave up on her dream, although she continued to be denied the opportunity to take the needed tests. But her impact on the Jewish community was recognized, and in 1935 she finally succeeded in becoming a rabbi, the first woman rabbi in the world. All of this took place in Berlin, where life for Jews was becoming more and more restricted and then impossible. Sasso, a rabbi herself, tells Regina’s story with great admiration and compassion. In an afterword readers are told of Regina’s deportation to Theresienstadt and then her death at Auschwitz. Lucas’ sepia and soft earth tones beautifully capture Regina’s strength in her facial expressions and body language as well as the time period and setting.
Evocative, inspiring, and uplifting. (author’s note, note to readers, photograph) (Picture book/biography. 7-12)