Is the Pope wearing a kippot?No, but Benedict XVI made his visit to the Rooonstrasse Synagogue in Cologne today.
Some news sources in the US are calling the Cologne the "oldest Jewish community in Germany." This needs to be qualified. Cologne, one of the first Roman outposts north of the Alps (its name means "Colony of Agrippina"), was the first Jewish community in Central Europe. Jews established themselves in the city almost as soon as the Romans.
The community was expelled from the city in 1414, the last of a wave of municipal expulsion that started a century earlier. Most went across the river to Deutz, which was not part of Cologne at the time. A few individuals were given special dispensation from the municipal council to travel through the city; even fewer allowed to reside within for short period of time. They would not return until the emancipation in the early nineteenth century.
More than a few important Jews came from Cologne, Moses Hess and Hans Mayer to name just a few.
I have written a lot about Cologne and its religious environment (mostly about the Dom) over the last fifteen months. Here as list of those posts:
- Imperfection as Great as G-d: about the ornamentation and grandiosity of Gothic architecture
- A Catholic Style, A German Style: about the Gothic's association with Catholic spirituality
- Can't see it through the buildings: the danger that the Dom will lose its UNESCO protection
- Links on the Liberation of Cologne
- The Undiscovered Country: how the image of the Cathedral among the ruins affected post-war attitudes of the citizens.
- Youth Gangs of the Third Reich and Anti-Nazi Youth in Cologne: some info relevant to Cologne's Edelweiss Pirates