Actress Rachel Weisz provides voiceover for unique film delving into an unknown chapter in Jewish history


LONDON — The first ordained woman rabbi did not consider herself to be a pioneer, an icon or a feminist. According to Hungarian filmmaker Diana Groó, she simply believed she was born to be a rabbi.

The hitherto untold story of Regina Jonas (1902-1944) is brought to life on screen in Groó’s sensitive poetic documentary, “Regina.” It pays tribute to an inspiring individual whose short but influential life has been beautifully constructed out of scant visual material — there is only one surviving photograph of the Berlin born Jonas.

Actor Rachel Weisz, who provides the voiceover for Regina in the English version of the film, describes her as the most significant female figure in 20th century Judaism. And yet making the documentary was an immense challenge for Groó: there was no longer anyone alive who had known Jonas. The project was also affected by financial problems until George Weisz, Rachel’s father, and a friend and admirer of Groó’s work, decided to lend his support as executive producer.

Speaking to the Times of Israel from Berlin, where she was working on the German version before attending a London screening later in the week, Groó explains that she first came across Regina Jonas’s story in 2005 when she met Reform Rabbi Elisa Klapheck at the Amsterdam Jewish Film Festival.

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