Regina Persisted: An Untold Story

Apples & Honey Press  2018

 

Based on a true story, this inspiring and beautifully written picture book centers around the little known life of Regina Jonas, the first woman to be ordained as a rabbi. The title refers to the now-popular feminist expression, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” first used by Senator Mitch McConnell to describe Senator Elizabeth Warren. The expression went viral, symbolizing women overcoming all kinds of barriers.

Sasso fills the book with details of what life was like for Regina and other German Jews of the early 20th century. Describing Berlin, she writes: “The streets were busy with bicycles, horse-drawn carriages, and motorcars. Peddlers called out their wares. The smells of fish, fresh lemon, and sweet spices filled the air.” Lucas’s bold yet dreamy illustrations reflect the text, as well as the hopes and energy integral to Regina’s personality.

The book ends with a note asking readers to consider what it feels like to be the very first at something, encouraging them to follow their dreams and persist despite obstacles. The afterword relates Regina's untimely demise at the hands of the Nazis and puts her accomplishment in the historical context of other pioneering women rabbis, including Sasso herself, the first woman ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.



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