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Akiva Weingarten

Interview and Photo from the Frédéric Brenner – ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES Exhibition Opening

A man in a suit with a kippah stands next to a portrait of himself on display; on the portrait on the wall he is cut in half: one half wears a beard and shtreimel, one half is shaved and bald.

Rabbi Akiva Weingarten in the exhibition ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES; Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jule Roehr

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.

Photograph of a man divided along the longitudinal axis, as it were, into two halves: on the left side he wears a shirt and bald head, on the right a full beard and a (halved) shtreimel on his head

From the photographic essay ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES by Frédéric Brenner, JMB, purchased with the support of the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin

Citation recommendation:

Jewish Museum Berlin (2021), Akiva Weingarten. Interview and Photo from the Frédéric Brenner – ZERHEILT: HEALED TO PIECES Exhibition Opening.

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