Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, a well known figure in the world of Jewish outreach and the founder of Hineni passed away today at the age of 80 after suffering a serious illness. A prolific speaker and well known author, Rebbetzin Jungreis was a Holocaust survivor and recipient of numerous awards and honors from both Jewish and non Jewish organizations.
Rebbetzin Jungreis was born in Hungary in1936, the daughter of the chief rabbi of Szeged. The Jungreis family was deported from their home town and managed to secure spots on the Kastner train which took them to Switzerland, before moving to Brooklyn in 1947.
After marrying a distant cousin, Rabbi Meshulem Jungreis, the Rebbetzin moved to North Woodmere, where her husband became the rabbi of the Ohr Hatorah synagogue. While raising a family of her own, she dedicated herself to combating assimilation, intermarriage and the secularization of Judaism.
In 1973 Rebbetzin Jungreis founded Hineni to bring unaffiliated Jews back to their religious roots and over the years, she criss-crossed the globe as a public speaker while authoring several books including The Jewish Soul on Fire, The Committed Life, The Committed Marriage, Principles of Good Living from our Timeless Past and Life is a Test.
In her lifetime the Rebbetzin has been featured as a keynote speaker for many groups including the Rabbinical Council of America, Hadassah, the United Jewish Appeal, Young Israel, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Orthodox Jewish Teachers Association and the 2004 Republican Convention.
She was named as “Woman of the Year” by several organizations and has been honored by the Knights of Pythias, the Christian Amita Society, the State of Israel and numerous branches of the Israel Defense Forces. Rebbetzin Jungreis was also appointed to accompany former President George W. Bush to Jerusalem in 2008 as part of an honorary delegation in honor of the State of Israel’s 60th anniversary.
Public calls for prayers for Rebbetzin Jungreis were released over the last few days as her condition deteriorated, which was described to be “quite serious” according to a Facebook post on the Rebbetzin Jungreis’ Hineni page.
“We are asking all of our friends and members to please say extra prayers for our dear mother, and the spiritual mother of the Jewish people. The Rebbetzin has for many decades kindled the light of Torah in millions of Jewish hearts around the world.
She has prayed for us and blessed each of all with her loving kindness and warmth. Now the Rebbetzin needs our prayers! We beseech each and every one of you to daven for a refuah sheleimoh/speedy recovery for Esther bas Miriam.”
She is survived by her children Chaya Sora Gertzulin, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, Slovi Wolff and Rabbi Osher Jungreis as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The funeral will take place at 11 AM Wednesday morning at Agudath Israel of Long Island, 1121 Sage Street in Far Rockaway.