The Abraham Geiger College, Germany’s Reform rabbinical school, ordained three rabbis recently. All three, like most of the 100,000-plus Jews who have come to Germany in the last 30 years, are from the former Soviet Union, but one garnered most of the attention.
Ukraine-born Alina Treiger is the first female rabbi ordained in Germany since before the Holocaust.
The last one, Regina Jonas, died in Auschwitz in 1944. She was the first woman known to be ordained as a rabbi in modern times.
Rabbi Treiger, 31, the daughter of a Ukrainian mother and Jewish father, converted to Judaism while in Ukraine, completed her music studies in Moscow and moved to Germany, the birthplace of Reform Judaism. There she found her calling as a spiritual leader.
“I unite three culture in me: the Jewish, the German and that of the former Soviet Union,” she told the AFP French news agency.
“I didn’t choose this job,” she said. “It chose me.”
Her inspiration, she says, was Rabbi Jonas, who was ordained in 1935, served as a teacher in liberal Jewish communities and was deported to Terezin in 1942, then finally to Auschwitz.
“I admire [Rabbi Jonas’] courage, the fact that she lived through a very difficult time and that she fought for a dream within a Jewish community that found it hard to accept learned women,” Rabbi Treiger told The Guardian newspaper. “I appreciate that she opened the door for me.”
Rabbi Treiger, receiving congratulations above after the ordination ceremony, took part in an ordination that German President Christian Wulff and members of the Christian and Muslim clergy attended.
She will serve in Oldenberg, a city in northwest Germany.
Her fellow ordainees are Moscow-born Konatantin Pal, who will work for the Jewish community in Erfurt, in former East Germany; and Boris Ronis, from Ukraine, who will work in Berlin.
Rabbi Treiger will not be the only female rabbi working in Germany — several, now studying at the Geiger College, will be ordained in 2012.