Published On Feb 16, 2021
Increasing numbers of Jews have been leaving ultra-orthodox communities in recent years. Surprisingly, Germany has become a popular refuge for them. Rabbi Akiva Weingarten has been helping them.
More than 1.3 million Jews live in ultra-orthodox communities worldwide. It’s a kind of parallel universe — in which only God’s laws count. Every aspect of everyday life is clearly regulated: The women are responsible for the home and for looking after the children while the men devote their lives to religious study. But some ten percent of ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel go on to quit their communities - and that figure is growing. The majority are young adults and, surprisingly, many come to Germany. Akiva Weingarten was one of them. He grew up in an ultra-orthodox Satmar community in New York State but made a radical break in 2014. He left his wife and children and started a new life in Berlin - without a credit card, a bank account or a job, or any relatives to fall back on. He is now surrounded by a free community of former ultra-orthodox Jews - who turn to the rabbi for practical and religious advice. Moshe Barnett and David Lamberger have only been flat mates in Dresden for a few months now. They are not just seeking a new life, but a new relationship with God.
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