BERLIN — Germany's burgeoning Jewish community ordained its first female rabbi since the Holocaust on Thursday, a major step for a religious group that until recently imported its leaders from abroad.
The ordination of Alina Treiger, a Ukrainian-born 31-year-old, is a sign of the growing diversity of Germany's largely conservative Jewish community, observers say, though some warned she will face an uphill battle among worshipers used to being led by male rabbis.
"I never thought becoming a rabbi was a possible profession for a woman," acknowledged Treiger, who immigrated to Germany in 2002 after studying music in Moscow, to ZDF public television.
She has been chosen to oversee Jewish communities in Lower Saxony after training at Abraham Geiger College. The school in 2006 graduated the first male rabbis to be ordained in Germany since World War II.
Treiger follows in the footsteps of Regina Jonas, who became the first female rabbi when she was ordained in 1935, during the Nazi regime. Jonas managed to survive until 1944 when she was killed in Auschwitz, one of about 200,000 German Jews, and 6 million across Europe, to perish in the Holocaust.
A handful of other female rabbis already work in Germany, but all were educated and ordained elsewhere.