My name is Rabbi Akiva Weingarten. I am the founder and President of the Besht Yeshiva in Dresden, the Rabbi of the Jewish community of Dresden and Rabbi of Migwan, the Liberal Jewish Congregation in Basel, Switzerland.
Where did the idea for your portrait’s staging and setting come from?
One day, I sat down with Frédéric Brenner in a Berlin café and told him about a photo I had seen and wanted to recreate. The photo was of a man who had shaved his hair and his beard on just one half of his face. The caption said: “Why did you do that?” “Because I can!” I felt that this “bisection” represented an inner conflict of mine: between the world I came from and the world I live in now, and my attempt to combine those two worlds.
How do you experience Jewish life in Berlin?
Jewish life in Berlin is very interesting and wonderfully multifaceted.
Describe your life in Berlin in three adjectives.
I live in Dresden now, but I lived in Berlin for many years. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it a lot.
What would your wish be for the future of Jewish life in Berlin?
For there to be more initiatives by young people doing their own projects and enriching Jewish life, even outside the existing institutions.
Jewish Museum Berlin (2021), Akiva Weingarten. Interview and Photo from the Frédéric Brenner – ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES Exhibition Opening.