VIDEO - More than 60 years after the Nazis shut down Germany's only rabbinical school, the first rabbis will be ordained Thursday in a ceremony welcomed by many as confirmation that Jewish life can again flourish in the country decades after the Holocaust. Political and religious leaders welcomed the step, calling it key to re-establishing a strong Jewish community in postwar, reunified Germany. Yet some warned that while the importance of the ordinations was not to be overlooked, Germany's relationship to its more than 100,000 Jews is far from normal. "After the Holocaust, many people could never have imagined that Jewish life in Germany could blossom again," President Horst Koehler said Wednesday. "That is why the first ordination of rabbis in Germany is a very special event indeed." Germany's Jewish community has more than tripled since the country reunified in 1990 and the government set up a program to take in Jews from the former Soviet Union. More than 100,000 Jews now live in some 102 communities. But for years Germany has had to rely on rabbis trained in England, Israel and the United States because Germany's last Jewish seminary, the Berlin-based Higher Institute for Jewish Studies, was shuttered by the Nazis in 1942. In 1999, Abraham Geiger College - named for the liberal rabbi considered the founder of the Reform Jewish movement - opened its doors in conjunction with the University of Potsdam in eastern Germany. It is a private, nonprofit institution sponsored by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the German government and the Leo Baeck Foundation. Thursday's ordination will take place at Dresden's new synagogue, which was rebuilt after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Only the beginning Despite the excitement over the new rabbis - German Daniel Alter, South African Malcolm Matitiani and Thomas Cucera of the Czech Republic - the college's director Walter Homolka said the ordination was only the beginning. "We need many more rabbis," Homolka told reporters in Dresden Wednesday. Dieter Graumann, the vice president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, noted it would take a long time before the relationship between Germany and its Jews could be considered "normal." "That will only be possible when we don't need to support this normalcy and when we don't have to talk about it anymore," Graumann said. Still, Homolka insisted the ordinations send an important signal to Germans "that we want to take our place in society." Alter and Cucera are to remain in Germany, taking up positions at temples in Oldenburg and Munich, respectively, while Matitiani will return to South Africa to a Jewish community in Cape Town.