Jewish Life Still Thrives in Europe

In a trendy neighborhood of Berlin, Café Elfenbein opened last year. On this night, two men each wearing a yarmulke were chatting away.

The freshly brewed coffee and regelach pastry both gave off distinct aromas in a place where a local Rabbi certified that the food is 100% kosher.

This addition to Berlin is evidence of a trend that has been obscured by the increase of late in anti-Semitism and the terror attacks in Denmark and France that have upset Jews. In Eastern and Central Europe, Jewish life is currently thriving.

A major reason is that the more confident and younger generation is shaping a new Jewish identity. In Berlin, Jewish life has flourished again and is doing so in the rest of the country as well.

In Germany, the Jewish community is still quite small at about 200,000 out of a population of 80 million. However, it has grown quite significantly from its population in the postwar of just 37,000 during 1950, due to immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

The cultural landscape of the country is now getting the stamp put on it by the community. In Cottbus, a city in East Germany, which is known to be home to right-wing extremists, a church that is no longer in use was recently converted into a synagogue, providing a space for 460 people in a Jewish-Russian Community.

A school of Jewish Theology opened in 2013 at University of Potsdam, making the city close to Berlin the nucleus in Germany for Jewish studies.

It seems to be strange that Germany, which was responsible for the WWII Holocaust that killed over 6 million Jews, is host to such a growing Jewish life.

Jewish schools and synagogues have a large presence of security as some locations have recently been vandalized and on a regular basis that had become unnerving for some, swastikas have appeared. Jews have been assaulted in Berlin as well.

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