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Toward the Endless Day

The Life of Elisabeth Behr-Sigel

Olga Lossky

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Sachbuch / Biographien, Autobiographien


Elisabeth Behr-Sigel (1907-2005) was one of the most important Orthodox theologians of the twentieth century. For seventy years she helped her church, dispersed and uprooted from its cultural heritage, adapt to a new world. Born in Alsace, France, to a Protestant father and a Jewish mother, Behr-Sigel received a master's degree in theology from the Protestant Faculty of Theology at Strasbourg and began a pastoral ministry. It lasted only a year. Already attracted by the beauty of its liturgy and by its characteristic spirituality, Behr-Sigel officially embraced the Orthodox faith at age twenty-four.

During World War II her family (husband André Behr and their three children) lived in Nancy, France, where Behr-Sigel taught in the public school system. She later referred to this time as her real apprenticeship in ecumenism, when people of different traditions came together in opposition to Nazism, hiding Jews and providing escape routes.

After the war she took advantage of courses at St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, where she later joined the faculty. Behr-Sigel also taught at the Catholic Institute of Paris, the Dominican College of Ottowa, and the Ecumenical Institute of Tantur near Jerusalem. She wrote and published books in Orthodox theology, spirituality, and the role of women in the Orthodox Church. In her retirement she continued to work on behalf of women and of the ecumenical movement.

Published in 2007 in France as Vers le jour sans déclin, this biography by the Orthodox writer Olga Lossky will bring to English-speaking readers of all religious persuasions the life and career of a remarkable and admirable woman of faith. Behr-Sigel fully cooperated with this biography, meeting with Lossky weekly during the last year of her life and giving Lossky access to her journal and personal letters.



Nazism, WWII, Catholic Institute of Paris, World War 2, Nazi Germany, Judaism, Protestantism, Jews in Nazi France, ecumenism, Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, European history, Jewish escape from Germany, the Holocaust, Orthodox history