It is with great sadness that we report the passing this afternoon of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h, founder of Hineni and pioneer in the world of kiruv.
Rebbetzin Jungreis was born in 1936 in Szeged, Hungary, where her father, Rav Avrohom Halevi Jungreis zt”l, was chief rabbi.
Her father was deported with other Jews from Szeged in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz. However, 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 Kastner train to Switzerland.
In 1947, after experiencing the horrors of the concentration camps and the Holocaust, the Jungreis family arrived in Brooklyn, New York, where the Rebbetzin married a distant cousin, Rav Meshulem Halevi Jungreis zt”l. The newly-married Jungreis couple settled in North Woodmere, New York, where Rav Jungreis became the rov of Ohr HaTorah.
The Rebbetzin and her husband embarked on a lifelong mission to combat the spiritual Holocaust that was occurring in front of their eyes in the United States. She waged a fierce battle against interfaith marriages, secularization, and other forms of assimilation, which she firmly believed was an existential threat to the continued existence of Klal Yisroel.
Due to her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, she became determined to devote her life to fighting assimilation. This led to the birth of the Hineni Movement in 1973. Hineni became a worldwide movement, with centers all over the world. As a result, Rebbetzin Jungreis spoke in locations such as the Hollywood Palladium, the Johannesburg Coliseum and Binyanei HaUmah in Yerushalayim. She also spoke regularly for the United States Army and Navy as well as for the Israel Defense Forces.
Rebbetzin Jungreis authored several best-selling books, including “The Jewish Soul On Fire,” “The Committed Life,” and “The Committed Marriage,” all of which have been translated into many languages, with tens of thousands of volumes disseminated in every corner of the globe. Her latest book, “Life Is A Test,” was widely acclaimed as one of the 10 best Jewish inspirational books of all time.
The Rebbetzin was a trailblazer for over a half century, crisscrossing the globe with her message of loving-kindness and hope. She was a teacher of Torah to Jews from every walk of life.
She spent her life showing the beauty of Yiddishkeit to Jews across the globe, bringing countless neshomos back to their roots.
The Rebbetzin’s pioneering work was widely recognized, and she received brachos and encouragement from numerous gedolim.
She was also recognized by numerous world leaders for her work within the Jewish community to advance Yiddishkeit. Among them were such notables as the late prime minister of Israel, Menachem Begin, and President George W. Bush, who asked the Rebbetzin to accompany him to Yerushalayim for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in 2008.
Her passing has plunged her tens of thousands of followers and admirers into mourning.
Rebbetzin Jungreis is survived by her children, Chaya Sora Gertzulin, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, Slovi Wolff and Rabbi Osher Jungreis, and by many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Yehi zichrah boruch.
The levayah will take place on Wednesday morning, at 11 o’clock, at Agudath Israel of Long Island, located at 1121 Sage Street in Far Rockaway, NY.