Akiva Weingarten

Rabbi Akiva Weingarten (born December 23, 1984, in Monsey, New York) is a German-American liberal rabbi. He serves as the rabbi of the city of Dresden, Germany from 2019, and the Liberal Jewish community "Migwan" in Basel, Switzerland.[1] He is the founder of the Haichal Besht synagogue in Bnei Brak, the Haichal Besht synagogue in Berlin, and the Besht Yeshiva in Dresden.

Akiva Weingarten
Rabbi Akiva Weingarten

Early life and educationEdit

Weingarten grew up in the Satmar Hasidic community in New Jersey. The eldest of eleven siblings, his mother tongue is Yiddish. His family on his father's side emigrated from post-World War II Hungary, and his maternal ancestors came from Lithuania. He was a "critical thinker" from an early age, and asked questions in the yeshivot, which was met with rejection in his Hasidic community.[2]

He received his first rabbinic ordination at the age of 17. The following year, he went to Israel to continue his studies, and lived in the Haredi city of Bnei Brak for ten years. At the age of 19, he was engaged and married. Two years later, he was already the father of two children. In Israel, he was ordained a rabbi two more times.[2]

In 2014, Weingarten left Israel and the Hasidic community, and went to Germany. He studied Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, until he was appointed rabbi to Dresden and Basel in 2019.[3]


Akiva Weingarten has been rabbi of the "Migwan" Liberal community in Basel and the city of Dresden since August 2019. There, he took over the office of his predecessor Alexander Nachama.[4] Today, Weingarten supports Jews who have left the Haredi communities to get integrated in a life outside of the strictly religious environment.[5] In 2017, he founded the liberal Hasidic community "Besht-Berlin", where Kabbalat Shabbat services, Kiddush, and joint study groups were held regularly.[6] In 2021 he left the "Jüdische Gemeinde zu Dresden" where he served as the Rabbi from 2019 until 2021 and founded a new community "Jüdische Kultusgemeinde Dresden"[7] that has about 200 members,[8] the community's synagogue is the Synagogue Neustadt in Dresden.[9]


Weingarten is unique as a Liberal rabbi who wears Hasidic clothing such as the shtreimel and kaftan on Shabbat.[10] In his sermons, he often uses Hasidic stories and explanations about the Torah, along with a liberal and up-to-date interpretation. He describes his approach to Judaism as "liberal Hasidic".[11]


  1. ^ "Reform US rabbi in Dresden explains ultra-Orthodox traditions to German Jews". Religion News Service. 2019-12-20. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  2. ^ a b Kofer, Chatzkaleh (2018-07-13). "Akiva's Story". Off the Derech. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  3. ^ "Reform US rabbi in Dresden explains ultra-Orthodox traditions to German Jews". Religion News Service. 2019-12-20. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  4. ^ "Neuer Dresdner Rabbiner setzt auf die Jugend". www.evangelisch.de (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  5. ^ Bohr, Felix. "Rabbi Akiva Weingarten über seine ultraorthodoxe Vergangenheit - DER SPIEGEL - Panorama". www.spiegel.de (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  6. ^ "Home | BESHT Berlin". beshtberlin.com. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  7. ^ "Dresden hat eine neue jüdische Gemeinde" (in German). Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  8. ^ "JÜDISCHE KULTUSGEMEINDE DRESDEN" (in German). Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  9. ^ "Vom Bau einer neuen Synagoge in Dresden" (in German). Retrieved 2022-10-24.
  10. ^ "Five questions for Akiva Weingarten".
  11. ^ "About me". Retrieved 2020-05-06.

External linksEdit