Elizabeth 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 Andre Behr and their three children) lived in Nancy, France. 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. 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.
MICHAEL P. PLEKON is a professor in the department of sociology/anthropology and the program in religion and culture at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is also an ordained priest in the Orthodox Church in America.