First published 2013. This ground-breaking book examines the lives of two extraordinary, religious women. Both Edith Stein and Regina Jonas were German Jewish women who demonstrated 'deviant' religious desires as they pursued their spiritual paths to serve their communities during the Holocaust. Both were religious visionaries viewed as iconoclasts in their own times. Stein, the first woman to receive a doctorate in philosophy from Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, claimed her Jewish identity while she was still a cloistered Carmelite nun. Jonas, the first woman rabbi in Jewish history, served as a rabbi in Berlin and Theresienstadt concentration camp. A study of a contemplative and a rabbi, the book ranges across many spiritual and theological questions, not least it offers a remarkable exploration of the theology of spiritual resistance. For Stein, this meant redemption and the transmutation of suffering on the cross; for Jonas, acts of compassion bring the face of God into our presence.
‘A fascinating and penetrating study on Edith Stein, a Catholic Jewish Carmelite nun, and Regina Jonas, woman rabbi. Both were executed by the Nazis in Auschwitz, though two years apart. Silverman’s analysis offers creative insights into religious, gendered, and mixed identities. She explores their desires and visions; she reflects on their crossing of boundaries; and she offers a theology of liberation of resistance. A remarkable study that breaks out of traditional modes of approach and offers new insights.’ – Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, Harvard Divinity School, USA
‘An innovative reading of the lives and thought of Edith Stein and Regina Jonas – a significant and highly readable contribution to both queer theology and studies of the Holocaust.’ – Melissa Raphael, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Foreword by Rosemary Radford Ruether
Part I: Desire
1 Why Edith Stein? Why Regina Jonas?
2 Stein’s and Jonas’s views of women: the philosophy student and the rabbinical student
Part II: Vision
3 St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross reveals the whole megillah as Edith Stein
4 Regina Jonas: from candidate to rabbinerin
Part III: God
5 Stein suffering on the cross: the call of Abram Lech Lecha
6 Rabbinerin Regina Jonas: seeing the face of the Shekhinah
7 A theology of resistance as liberation in the death camps