Esther Jungreis, Hungarian-born American religious leader, Died at 80

Esther Jungreis was born in 1936, in Szeged, Hungary, and died on August 23, 2016.

She was a Hungarian-born American religious leader.

Esther was the founder of the international Hineni movement in the United States.

She was a Holocaust survivor, she worked to bring Jews to Orthodox Judaism.

Esther’s father, Abraham, was an Orthodox rabbi and operated a little shtiebel in the city.

However, in the end Abraham Jungreis was deported with other Jews from Szeged in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz.

Nonetheless, a relative who 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 was transferred onto the so-called Kastner train to Switzerland.

During 1947 the family moved to Brooklyn, New York, where Jungreis reconnected with distant cousin Theodore Jungreis, a rabbi, and they married.

Together, they settled in North Woodmere, New York, and founded the North Woodmere Jewish Center/Orthodox Congregation Ohr Torah.

They had four children.

Because of her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, Jungreis became “determined to devote her life to combating the spiritual holocaust that was occurring here in the United States.”

Which led to the birth of the Hineni movement on November 18, 1973, in Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum.

This campaign was aimed to promote authentic, traditional Yiddishkeit in the United States.

She led the movement, she drew criticism for her outspoken stance against interfaith marriages, equating them with the Nazi Holocaust.

Esther was also critical of secularization, which she viewed as a form of assimilation.

Following Rabbi Jungreis died in 1996, Rebbetzin Jungreis continued with outreach and education.

Together with Paysach Krohn, Jungreis served as a guest speaker at the annual Shavuot retreat hosted by The Gateways Organization.

Esther Jungreis passed away at 80 years old.