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Synagogue and Holy Sand Cemetery in Worms - ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz

Worms, Germany

Synagoge und Friedhof Heiliger Sand in Worms ist ein historischer Ort von großer Bedeutung für die jüdische Gemeinde in Deutschland. Es ist der älteste jüdische Friedhof Europas und die zweitälteste Synagoge in Deutschland.

Der Friedhof wurde bereits im 11. Jahrhundert angelegt und war bis ins 15. Jahrhundert in Benutzung. Auf dem Gelände befinden sich über 2.500 Grabsteine, die Zeugnis ablegen von der jüdischen Geschichte und Kultur in Worms. Die Grabsteine sind kunstvolle Kunstwerke, die Einblicke in das Leben und die Traditionen der jüdischen Gemeinde in Worms geben.

Die Synagoge, die ebenfalls auf dem Gelände des Heiligen Sandes steht, wurde im 12. Jahrhundert erbaut und ist ein beeindruckendes Beispiel für die mittelalterliche jüdische Architektur. Im Laufe der Jahrhunderte wurde die Synagoge mehrfach umgebaut und restauriert, um den Bedürfnissen der wachsenden jüdischen Gemeinde gerecht zu werden.

Heute ist die Synagoge ein Ort des Gebets, der Feier und des Gedenkens für die jüdische Gemeinde in Worms. Sie ist ein wichtiger Teil des kulturellen Erbes der Stadt und wird von Besuchern aus aller Welt besucht, um mehr über die jüdische Geschichte und Kultur zu erfahren.

Die Synagoge und der Friedhof Heiliger Sand sind auch ein Gedenkort für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Während des Zweiten Weltkriegs wurden die jüdischen Gemeinden in Worms und ganz Europa von den Nazis verfolgt und ermordet. Die Gedenkstätten auf dem Gelände erinnern an die dunkle Vergangenheit und mahnen zum Gedenken und zur Aufklärung über die Schrecken des Holocaust.

Besucher können die Synagoge und den Friedhof Heiliger Sand in Worms besichtigen und an Führungen teilnehmen, um mehr über die Geschichte und Bedeutung dieses einzigartigen Ortes zu erfahren. Es ist ein Ort des Respekts und der Wertschätzung für die jüdische Gemeinde und ein wichtiger Teil der kulturellen Vielfalt in Worms.

Located in the former Imperial cathedral cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, in the Upper Rhine Valley, the serial site of Speyer, Worms and Mainz comprise the Speyer Jewry-Court, with the structures of the synagogue and women’s shul (Yiddish for synagogue), the archaeological vestiges of the yeshiva (religious school), the courtyard and the still intact underground mikveh (ritual bath), which has retained its high architectural and building quality. The property also comprises the Worms Synagogue Compound, with its in situ post-war reconstruction of the 12th century synagogue and 13th century women’s shul, the community hall (Rashi House), and the monumental 12th-century mikveh. The series also includes the Old Jewish Cemetery in Worms and the Old Jewish Cemetery in Mainz. The four component sites tangibly reflect the early emergence of distinctive Ashkenaz customs and the development and settlement pattern of the ShUM communities, particularly between the 11th and the 14th centuries. The buildings that constitute the property served as prototypes for later Jewish community and religious buildings as well as cemeteries in Europe. The acronym ShUM stands for the Hebrew initials of Speyer, Worms and Mainz.

The Worms Synagogue, also known as Rashi Shul, is an 11th-century synagogue located in Worms, Germany. Situated in the northern part of the city center, the synagogue is one of the oldest in Germany. Because of its historical importance and its testimony to the European Jewish cultural tradition through millennia, the Worms Synagogue was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2021 (along with other medieval Jewish cultural sites in Speyer and Mainz).

The history of the Jews in Germany goes back at least to the year 321 CE, and continued through the Early Middle Ages (5th to 10th centuries CE) and High Middle Ages (circa 1000–1299 CE) when Jewish immigrants founded the Ashkenazi Jewish community. The community survived under Charlemagne, but suffered during the Crusades. Accusations of well poisoning during the Black Death (1346–53) led to mass slaughter of German Jews, while others fled in large numbers to Poland. The Jewish communities of the cities of Mainz, Speyer and Worms became the center of Jewish life during medieval times. "This was a golden age as area bishops protected the Jews, resulting in increased trade and prosperity."

The First Crusade began an era of persecution of Jews in Germany. Entire communities, like those of Trier, Worms, Mainz and Cologne, were slaughtered. The Hussite Wars became the signal for renewed persecution of Jews. The end of the 15th century was a period of religious hatred that ascribed to Jews all possible evils. With Napoleon's fall in 1815, growing nationalism resulted in increasing repression. From August to October 1819, pogroms that came to be known as the Hep-Hep riots took place throughout Germany. During this time, many German states stripped Jews of their civil rights. As a result, many German Jews began to emigrate.

From the time of Moses Mendelssohn until the 20th century, the community gradually achieved emancipation, and then prospered.

In January 1933, some 522,000 Jews lived in Germany. After the Nazis took power and implemented their antisemitic ideology and policies, the Jewish community was increasingly persecuted. About 60% (numbering around 304,000) emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship. In 1933, persecution of the Jews became an official Nazi policy. In 1935 and 1936, the pace of antisemitic persecution increased. In 1936, Jews were banned from all professional jobs, effectively preventing them from participating in education, politics, higher education and industry. On 10 November 1938, the state police and Nazi paramilitary forces orchestrated the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), in which the storefronts of Jewish shops and offices were smashed and vandalized, and many synagogues were destroyed by fire. Only roughly 214,000 Jews were left in Germany proper (1937 borders) on the eve of World War II.

Beginning in late 1941, the remaining community was subjected to systematic deportations to ghettos and, ultimately, to death camps in Eastern Europe. In May 1943, Germany was declared judenrein (clean of Jews; also judenfrei: free of Jews). By the end of the war, an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 German Jews had been killed by the Nazi regime and their collaborators. A total of about six million European Jews were murdered under the direction of the Nazis, in the genocide that later came to be known as the Holocaust.

After the war, the Jewish community in Germany started to slowly grow again. Beginning around 1990, a spurt of growth was fueled by immigration from the former Soviet Union, so that at the turn of the 21st century, Germany had the only growing Jewish community in Europe, and the majority of German Jews were Russian-speaking. By 2018, the Jewish population of Germany had leveled off at 116,000, not including non-Jewish members of households; the total estimated enlarged population of Jews living in Germany, including non-Jewish household members, was close to 225,000.

By German law, denial of the Holocaust or that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust (§ 130 StGB) is a criminal act; violations can be punished with up to five years of prison. In 2006, on the occasion of the World Cup held in Germany, the then-Interior Minister of Germany Wolfgang Schäuble, urged vigilance against far-right extremism, saying: "We will not tolerate any form of extremism, xenophobia, or antisemitism." In spite of Germany's measures against these groups and antisemites, a number of incidents have occurred in recent years.