In Memoriam: Rabbi Helga Newmark, z''l

Monday, June 25, 2012

The HUC-JIR community expresses profound sorrow on the death of Rabbi Helga Newmark, N '00, who was ordained at the age of 67 and the first woman Holocaust survivor to be ordained as a rabbi. 

Rabbi Newmark served as Director of Education at Temple Emanu-El of Westfield, NJ (1982-99) and earned a Master's degree in Social Work before studying for the rabbinate.  

As Jewish pre-teen in Germany, she suffered the horrors of the concentration camps during the Holocaust, while her father and most of her family were exterminated. In 1945, she and her mother were liberated by the Russians and made their way to the U.S. to build a new life. She married Eric Newmark, a Holocaust survivor and jewelry maker, and they raised a family. 

Her dream of becoming a rabbi was finally realized when she was admitted into HUC-JIR's rabbinical program by Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, then HUC-JIR President, z"l, a child refugee from Nazi Germany and a founder of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

Rabbi Newmark's book, Letters to the Wise One: A Holocaust Survivor's Conversations with God (2007), is a compilation of her personal recollections, essays, poetry, and diary entries that recount her tragic memories during the Shoah, her return to life and hope, and her fulfillment in becoming a rabbi.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu