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Genetics instead of Talmud study

Shon Kindi came to Dresden from an Orthodox family in Israel


Nachshon (Shon) Kindi did not want to take this path. After elementary school in Israel, he was to transfer to a Yeshiva. That was the plan of his parents.


His father was from Brazil and grew up secular. At 29, he discovered his religion, became Orthodox and took the path of aliyah, that is, he emigrated to Israel. His marriage to his wife was arranged traditionally. In Beitar Illit, a town ten kilometers southwest of Jerusalem, his parents opened a store selling women's underwear, including Orthodox customers.


Shon is one of nine children, born in 1999. He remembers his first days in the Orthodox yeshiva very well. Mornings started at 7 a.m., following a strictly scheduled schedule until 9 p.m., filled exclusively with Talmud studies. "I was also interested in many other things," Shon Kindi recounts. "One or two hours for Talmud would have been enough for me. But up to seven hours - that was too much for me." After three days, he refused to continue attending the yeshiva. At first, his parents wouldn't accept it. Then they had to realize that they could not force their son to do so.


At home, he prepared for the high school diploma by studying on his own, which is possible in Israel. At 17, he passed the exams. Later, he began to study economics and science at the University of Jerusalem, for three semesters. Then it became increasingly difficult to afford the rent for his student digs. "Besides, I needed change." In 2019, he left for Brazil. A brother of his father lived in Sao Paulo. He stayed there for two years, traveling, studying, working with the uncle. "I wanted to gain experience," he says.


Through his brother, he learned about Moshe Barnett and the Besht Yeshiva, which Rabbi Akiva Weingarten had founded. In the fall of 2020, Shon Kindi traveled to Dresden. "I didn't know what to expect. But I wanted to try." In addition to his native Hebrew, the English he needed to study, and the Portuguese spoken in Brazil, he was now learning German.


"The Besht Yeshiva helped me a lot to arrive here," he reports. "They helped me with visas and dealing with the authorities, with the language and everything you need for everyday life, and it provided me with community."


Becoming self-reliant, being able to be independent, is what matters most to him. He finds the Shabbat evenings at the Jewish Religious Community very nice. "But I don't always need them."


He is not strictly religious, says Shon Kindi. But culture and traditions are important to him, he says. He prepares his food kosher and strictly observes Shabbat rest. He lifts a flat, black appliance from the kitchen cabinet of his student apartment in Dresden-Plauen - a hot plate. He puts the pot of food he cooked on Friday on it. That way it stays warm until Saturday without him having to turn on electricity, which according to the rules (mitzvot) is considered work to refrain from on that day.


In the Besht Yeshiva, he met his girlfriend. She comes from an ultra-Orthodox family. "She herself no longer observes the rules, but she does it for my sake."


In the meantime, Shon Kindi has started studying at the Technical University. At the Max Planck Institute, after an internship, he now has a parallel regular scientific job. He pulls three books from a shelf, English textbooks on genetics and stem cell biology. "I find that fascinating," he says.


Now he wants to do a bachelor's degree in neuroscience first, then a master's degree, in Germany in any case. He doesn't know yet if it will be in Dresden. Maybe also in Berlin, Hamburg or Cologne. "Big cities appeal to me." A responsible position in his profession is what he wants. "Maybe I'll stay here, too." For now, he has taken on the position of spokesman for the Jewish Student Union of Saxony, which was founded as an association in September. A new task for him. But, he repeats, "I need change."

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