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I got to know Mo-Aydah Tlapak about 13 years ago. I was able to witness important stages of her life, such as her Bat Mitzvah and their wedding, but also many Celebrations and other occasions. I have also lived repeatedly for several days in the Community and thus had the opportunity to look behind the scenes.
I want to emphasize that I am not attached to any special kind of religious Community, I am simply Protestant. That's why I consider myself an objective observer and do not feel that I could be led to prejudice people in favor of the Twelve Tribes by my own religious beliefs.
Mo-Aydah and I were both about 10 years old when we first met, and since then we have observed each other’s life.
The Twelve Tribes community was living in Oberbronnen in Baden-Württemberg, and my mum and I and a girlfriend went there because we thought it was interesting. So we became pen pals and then close friends for life.
The family of her parents was marked by a lot of understanding and affection. At the time, being a child and young teenager, this appeared to me as normal, but today I am a trained family nurse, and have worked 2 ½ years in this profession. Now, studying social work, I know that a loving family environment is not at all something to be taken for granted. In Mo-Aydah's family and also in the other families in Klosterzimmern with whom I came in contact, I have had the privilege to experience such a loving togetherness among them.
The kids were fearless, and as Prepubescents and Pubescents, tested the limits, the way children and teenagers just do it. When I hear now that the Twelve Tribes Community is accused of military drill of children, that is absolute nonsense and contradicts everything I have seen and experienced.
The children and young people in the community were quiet and balanced, no restless TV children. They live very close to nature with their own garden, own animals, they play musical instruments, handcrafts, weaving, pottery, carpentry, home theater and so on. They are perhaps the most creative children I have met so far in my life.
In the choice of musical instruments the parents were sensitive of the talents, interests and capabilities of each child. They had piano, violin, harp, trumpet, flute, guitar, drums, and so on.
The children are obviously not under compulsion or brainwashed, their behavior is spontaneous, creative, open, curious, sometimes really inappropriate – as it is normal for children, and never once gave me the impression of being distraught or abused.
The children are being treated in very age-appropriate fashions.
On Saturday/Sabbath service was held and the children were not required to adjust to the adults religious thinking. Instead, the children were offered a completely child-oriented program, including story telling, plays and musical offerings. Thus the Bible stories become tangible and real, and the children feel appreciated and protected by participating.
Upon hearing accusations such as that the children are being harshly treated, I can hardly believe that someone would broadcast statements like this. The parents respond to their children calmly and deliberately, never I have seen them in anger. Children and teenagers are being met with great understanding and empathy.
The children don't get lost in a chaos of differing opinions, because when they ask adults for this or that, they are often told to go to mum or dad so that the child would be led back to his own family with all his questions, to honor his parents' authority and to preserve the security of his family environment.
Yet the education is not anti-authoritarian, but consistent.
There is a stable relationship between parents and children, which is marked by the affection, kindness, and caresses of the younger children, and at no time I had the impression that fear of penalties would have played a significant role in the concept of education in the family of my friend or in the community in general.
I remember fondly that after the birth of her first child, my friend was taken care of by a network of loving relationships. Her husband Noah often took on the care for the baby, and also other members of the community Klosterzimmern were available, being helpful to prevent the young mother from being overloaded.
I have not experienced the horror community, of which the media is reporting fervently, but rather a model community, which I enjoy visiting time and time again, and where I feel at home.
If I had children and would have to go for the few days to hospital, I would give my children without hesitation into the hands of my friend and her husband.
Statement by M. W.