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Sarah Burkhard’s children Tal, left, and Yonah, look at old Torah scrolls at the Roonstrasse synagogue in Cologne.(Danielle Cheslow)

As Germany witnesses a rebirth of its Jewish community, it also navigates battles like public opposition to circumcision and disturbing acts of anti-Semitism. Today on Tablet, Daniella Cheslow takes a look at the city of Cologne.

The Jews of Cologne call themselves the oldest Jewish community north of the Alps, with records dating back to 321 CE. But the Jewish community here is now better known as the place at the heart of a national—and international—debate over Jewish religious freedom last year, when a court here ruled circumcision illegal. This negative attention obscured what was, for many in Cologne itself, a revival of sorts, which has included the refurbishing of a host of Jewish communal institutions. Two years ago, the city’s mikveh, or ritual bath, was renovated. In September 2012, four new rabbis were ordained in an emotional ceremony in Cologne’s main city synagogue. The city is investing 50 million euros in building a Jewish museum.

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