This year, we are commemorating 1,700 years of Jewish life in Germany. Throughout 2021, we will look at Jewish history, culture and traditions dating back to the 4th century in the region now known as Germany.
Evidence of Jewish life in Germany can be traced back to the year 321, when the Cologne City Council issued a written edict permitting Jews to join the Council.
But archeologists have found many other traces of Jewish life and history in Germany, including the remnants of an 11th century synagogue in Cologne.
The archeological site of these remnants – which was part of a complete medieval Jewish quarter – is now being used to build a museum that is scheduled to open in 2024. Cologne has applied to have the quarter listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Augsburg to Trier, evidence of Jewish early Jewish life exists in many different German cities.
Andrei Kovacs, managing director of the anniversary year, told Deutsche Welle that he wants to “make Jewish life visible”, which is particularly important at a time of rising anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism are probably over 1,700 years old,” he said. “But we also want to show what Jews have contributed to society in those years. There are many great initiatives today to create conversations between Jewish and non-Jewish people in our society.”
“We want to counter the often difficult and tragic past with something positive,” he added.
The yearlong celebration of Jewish life will include performances, theater and food tasting events, but online alternatives will be set up in the case of additional or continued lockdowns.
By Nicole Glass, German Embassy