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Jewish Revivalism: Esther Jungreis’ “You Are a Jew”

Date: Thursday, Aug. 12 | 7:00–8:30 PM EDT

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis was one of the most influential American Jews of the late 20th century. After surviving the Holocaust, she moved to America and founded Hineni, an international movement dedicated to “combating the spiritual holocaust that was occurring here in the United States.” Known as the “Jewish Billy Graham,” she was a popular author and dynamic orator, whose inspirational and impassioned speeches convinced many Jews to become more observant. In this seminar, we will study her “You Are a Jew” speech, delivered at Madison Square Garden in 1973 to thousands of attendees, which marked the beginning of the Hineni outreach movement. We will consider her form of rhetoric as well as the reception  of this monumental speech. We will also discuss how Rebbetzin Jungreis’ speech fits into broader trends of religious revivalism in America in the 1970s, as well as ponder the implications of an Orthodox woman preaching traditionalism in front of thousands of listeners.

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