Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis spent her early childhood in Szeged, Hungary, where her father was chief rabbi of the Orthodox Jewish community. Her maiden name was Jungreis (she married a distant cousin Theodore Jungreis; the name Jungreis was common in Hungary at the time with over 85 Orthodox rabbis having the surname).
She can trace her roots, "a great rabbinical dynasty, to King David". During World War II, her family was sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; she and her father survived.
Rabbi Jungreis, the Rav of Szeged, was deported with other Jews from Szeged in a cattle car bound for Auschwitz. However a relative that worked for Rudolph Kastner’s office arranged that when the train from Szeged passed through Budapest the cattle car was opened and the entire Jungreis family went onto the Kastner train to Bergen Belsen.
In 1947 they moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she reconnected with distant cousin Theodore Jungreis, a rabbi. They married. She was called Rebbetzin, a Yiddish term of respect and endearment for the wife of a rabbi and, increasingly, a term of respect for an outstanding Orthodox female teacher of Judaism.
Eventually, they settled in North Woodmere, New York where Rabbi Jungreis led the Orthodox Congregation Ohr Torah. Together they raised four children. Rabbi Jungreis has died, but Rebbetzin Jungreis continues with her work. Now she lives in Lawrence, NY
Due to her experiences as a Holocaust survivor, she became "determined to devote her life to combating the spiritual holocaust that was occurring here in the United States." This led to the birth of the Hineni Movement on November 18, 1973 in Madison Square Garden's Felt Forum.
Her outspoken stance against interfaith marriages, equating them with the Nazi Holocaust, while drawing criticism, is statistically supported.
Along with Paysach Krohn, Jungreis has served as a guest speaker at the annual Shavuot retreat hosted by Gateways since 2005.