An archaeological project and a forthcoming museum seek to shed light on the long presence of Jews in Cologne, Germany.
“We have no children. Our children are the zoo,” Elizabeth Reichert said.
An American tourist was robbed and called a “Jewish bastard” by youths after he asked them for directions in the Cologne train station.
The city of Cologne agreed to return six valuable drawings looted by the Nazis from a Jewish art collector.
“We are fighting over history here,” said Dr. Sven Schuette, as we toured an archaeological dig in this city in western Germany in late March. “They claim the Jews fell from the sky, that they are merely guests here, who came and left. But what can you do, the findings we discovered in the field prove otherwise,” he added excitedly, as he pointed out the ancient synagogue and ritual bath that were uncovered in the heart of the city in recent years.
For the first time since the Nazis took power in 1933, a rabbinical ordination takes place here at the synagogue in Cologne. The revival of the Jewish community in Germany is not only happening in big cities like Frankfurt, Berlin or Munich it’s also happening in many small towns around Cologne, along the left and right banks of the Rhine River, a region known as the Rhineland. The Jewish religious infrastructure, which is emerging in many places in Germany, is now receiving a stable spiritual foundation from the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin. Like many other young rabbis in Germany, the four rabbis ordained in Cologne completed studies at the Hildesheimer seminary, founded in 1873 by Rabbi Ezriel Hildesheimer, forced to close in 1938 by the Nazis, and reopened in 2009 by the Central Council of Jews in Germany. In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah, the Jewish bible after the completion of a grueling learning program in the codes of Jewish law or Hallaha. With this ordination ceremony the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary is continuing to contribute to the revival of Jewish life in Germany through the training of young rabbis. Another historic moment - this is the first such ceremony in Roonstrasse Synagogue in over 70 years. Roonstrasse Synagogue is one of the five pre-Nazi synagogues which existed in Cologne, it was destroyed on November 9, 1938 during nation-wide attacks on Jewish-owned property when Germany was under Nazi rule. The Roonstrasse …
The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, has told a crowd of Jews at a rabbinic ordination ceremony in Cologne that he supports the Jewish community’s right to circumcision. Mr Westerwelle said that “those who do not allow the circumcision of boys in Germany do not allow Jewish life in Germany.” The comments are likely to be music to the ears of German Jews who faced a recent legal challenge over the ancient practice. President of the World Jewish Congress Ronald S. Lauder: “We argue among ourselves enough about what is right and what is wrong. We don’t need anyone else to argue with us. The hallmark of a free country is that it respects minorities and protects their rights. Therefore I ask Germany: choose freedom, choose tolerance, choose respect and let us be Jewish here.” A Cologne court ruled in June that circumcision on religious grounds amounted to bodily harm, following complications with the practice on a Muslim boy. Since then the state of Berlin formally legalized the practice, while the federal government is likely to legislate on the issue in due course.
Around 300 protesters have gathered in the German capital of Berlin to show their anger at a regional court ruling that unnecessary circumcision on young boys is tantamount to grievous bodily harm. The ruling in a court in Cologne earlier this summer came after a young Muslim boy was admitted into hospital with medical complications following the procedure. The decision sparked an outcry from many of the country’s Jews and Muslims, who see circumcision as a central tenet of their faith and identity. The former head of Berlin’s Jewish community, Lala Suesskind, said that she was working alongside Turkish community leaders to put a stop to “ignorant and intolerant chitchat”. Meanwhile Rabbi Yitzhak Ehrenberg, whose outspoken promise to continue performing the operation caused Berlin police to make a complaint against him, vowed to “carry on” the struggle. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also criticized the move, saying it made the country a “laughing stock” and attacked freedom of religion. Some have called for rabbis to be given appropriate medical training to carry out the procedure in an effort to find a compromise for the contentious issue.
After a Cologne court’s ruling in June that circumcision was tantamount to criminal bodily harm sparked a debate across Europe, Jewish and Muslim leaders in Germany say one positive outcome has emerged from the controversy — the fact that it has brought the two communities closer together: Rabbi Marc Schneier, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding: “It’s clear that the Jewish and Muslim communities are at one on this issue. We find the reaction on the part of these governments unconscionable, highly insensitive and unsympathetic. But I’m less concerned about these areas of mutual interest and mutual cooperation, I’m more concerned about the continued attacks that we find on Jews and Muslims here in Europe.” The Cologne’s court’s finding came after a Muslim boy suffered complications following a circumcision. It is not an outright ban but has resulted in some hospitals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland suspending the procedure. Jewish and Muslim communities fear other countries may follow suit. Last month, criminal charges were filed against Bavarian Rabbi David Goldberg after he performed a circumcision. Gonca Mucuk, a German Muslim of Turkish origin, says she can’t understand the Cologne court’s ruling, and thinks it’s a violation of freedom of religion. Following the verdict she decided to have her son circumcised whilst on holiday in Turkey. The German federal government is currently drafting new legislation which will clarify the issue. Meanwhile the state of Berlin …
Criminal charges for bodily harm have been filed against a rabbi in Germany for carrying out circumcisions. Rabbi David Goldberg, who is a mohel in the 400-strong Jewish community of Hof in Bayern, has been charged according to a July ruling by a court in Cologne banning circumcision on religious grounds. The ban was introduced after a four year old Muslim boy was returned to hospital with bleeding following circumcision. The news of charges against the rabbi, brought by a doctor in Hessen, has caused outrage and shock among Jewish groups in Germany and internationally. The vice President of the World Jewish Congress has said there was an urgent need to create legal certainty over the matter. The news came on the day that Israel’s chief rabbi Yona Metzger travelled to Berlin to try to convince German lawmakers that they should overturn the ruling and reach a compromise on how circumcisions should be carried out. Orthodox Jewish practice sees circumcision performed at eight days old. The doctor who has pressed charges against Rabbi Goldberg is reported to be one of a number of signatories to an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel which states that religious freedom should not constitute a basis for violence against boys too young to consent. But some commentators have said that the ruling has proved disastrous for Germany’s image, particularly in the light of the country’s Nazi past. Germany is home to around 120000 Jews and 4 million Muslims. Both Jewish and …