In 2017, Rabbi Akiva Weingarten began supporting young Jewish people who had left ultra-Orthodox communities to integrate outside the communities while remaining connected to Judaism.
In this form, the Besht Yeshiva is a unique model project which, supported by our own experience, does not yet exist in this form anywhere in the world. Young women and men are accompanied and supported in their professional integration into German society.
This exit from ultra-Orthodox is a process that will take years. Not only do you decide to reconsider your understanding of religion, you are giving up the identity you were given from childhood. A completely structured life, characterized by religious requirements in all areas, suddenly disappears and with it the predetermined meaning of life. Most of these young women and men do not have a high school diploma, they have an almost exclusively religious education, but they lack holistic knowledge. They encounter many realities of the secular world for the first time, since the everyday life they come from is based on a set of rules from the 18th century.
Rabbi Akiva Weingartner, originally a Satmar from South Williamsburg/USA, left in 2014, came to Germany and is now a respected and integrated member of European society. As a so-called “OTD” (someone who is “off the way”), his wish is to enable other women and men to take this step and to help them find their place in western society.
"Besht" is an abbreviation of "Baal Shem Tov" - the founder of the Hasidic movement in Judaism, also known as Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer (1698-1760).
This mystical scholar inspires our mission statement and desire to realize a liberal Hasidic life.
Our yeshiva supports these young people, who have completely turned their backs on their previous lives, to find themselves again and to become active in the Jewish community as well as to gain a foothold in the German working world.
Living in a Hasidic community, our students possess a religious knowledge of Judaism to a degree lacking in the western world today. It is a wealth of knowledge from centuries that these people carry and have internalized. They had the courage to completely transform their lives and are willing to give back to this society everything they receive from it in this process of inclusion. Among other things:
Courses in one area of Jewish life (culture, dances, food)
Language courses (Yiddish, Hebrew, Aramaic, etc)
To celebrate Jewish holidays together with guests of all denominations
Teaching Jewish traditions in schools
Diversity of democracy and religions
Besht wants to create a win-win situation within the city in the areas of education, health, technology, industry, culture and society in order to exchange knowledge and network.
In addition, Jewish life should be enlivened by being open to exchange and sharing our activities with the people of Dresden - regardless of faith, origin, gender and values. The Besht Yeshiva enriches Jewish life in Dresden in many ways and counters anti-Semitic stereotypes both with knowledge and through exchange with society and continuous presence.
Establishing a yeshiva in Dresden today is done with awareness of the rich Jewish history in Saxony and based on personal experience of the major challenges that Jewish life in Dresden has to face at the present time. Our wish is always to enable openness and positive cooperation. In addition, we offer all Dresdeners and interested people:
to position the Besht Yeshiva as an open place for discourse and getting to know one another in Dresden
Lectures with clergymen of various denominations, scientists, philosophers
Meeting days at different places and with different programs
Joint services followed by a meal
and much more