TEL AVIV – Jewish spiritual leader and outreach pioneer Esther Jungreis passed away on Tuesday evening at the age of 80.
Jungreis, a survivor of the Holocaust, was renowned in the American and Israeli Jewish communities for her work at Hineni, a New York-based Jewish outreach organization she founded with her late husband Rabbi Meshuelem Halevi Jungreis.
Jungreis authored four books on the subjects of spirituality and relationships, and frequently addressed large crowds at a weekly class in New York City.
Hineni posted a notice of her passing on their website, writing, “Our crown has departed. Our glory is gone.”
Born in 1936 in Szeged, Hungary, Esther Jungreis was the daughter of the city’s Chief Rabbi Avroham Halevi Jungreis.
After surviving Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Jungreis came to New York two years after the war and settled in Long Island.
The woman known affectionately as “the Rebbetzin” (rabbi’s wife) was known for delivering esoteric lectures and moving accounts of her experiences while dressed in high heels and glamorous floor-length gowns usually seen on superstar songstresses.
Shira Nussbaum, who works with Hineni’s satellite in Tel Aviv, noted the “rockstar Rebbetzin’s” enormous heart and approachability – despite her diva appearance.
“I fell in love at first sight with that fabulous little old lady in heels and a full face of glam,” Nussbaum told Breitbart Jerusalem, adding that Jungreis was the reason that she found her own way back to an observant Jewish life.
The Jungreises founded Hineni in the 1970s in an attempt to curb the growing assimilation they witnessed among young American Jews.
A few decades later, Jungreis proudly announced that she had matched over 1,000 Jewish couples who ended up marrying.
She is survived by four children, Chaya Sora Gertzulin, Rabbi Yisroel Jungreis, Slovi Wolff, and Rabbi Osher Jungreis, in addition to many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.