Population: 82 million
Jewish population: 125,000
Jewish settlement in Germany began in the fourth century and continued throughout successive centuries, resulting in flourishing communities, with an active and intellectual life in cities such as Worms The Ashkenazi (literally meaning: German) Jews descended from medieval Jewish communities along the Rhine from Alsace in the south to the Rhineland in the north. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for Germany. During the 1930s, with the Nazis rising to power, the half a million Jews living in Germany found themselves rapidly excluded from the society. ‘Kristallnacht’ in 1938, when hundreds of Jews were killed and injured, tens of thousands arrested, synagogues set ablaze and Jewish homes and businesses ransacked, marked the beginning of what the Nazis termed the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question”. Some 180,000 German Jews perished in the Holocaust, and most others emigrated prior or after World War II, with only a small community remaining until the 1990s.
Today, following an influx of some 80,000 Jews from eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the German Jewish community is the only one in Europe that is growing again. The largest Jewish community is Berlin (11,000), followed by Munich (9,500) and Frankfurt (7,000). Around a hundred smaller communities are scattered throughout the country. Jewish life has seen a renaissance in recent years, and a large numbers of synagogues, community centers and Jewish museums were either renovated or newly built throughout the country.
The Jewish communities are united under an officially recognized umbrella body, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, which receives financial support from the German state.