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Visit to Worms, Germany

By Felipe and Annarose Lopez

We want to share with all of you a trip we made to the city of Worms on 20 August 2015. Linda and David Burton-Lee visited us here in Germany and we traveled to Worms. We went to several Jewish sites and when we went to the cemetery we ran into a group visiting from Israel. We engaged in a nice conversation with them. Below is a short history of Worms and the sites that we visited.

 

Warmaisa: Worms as a centre of Jewish learning and culture.

In the Middle Ages, the Jewish communities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz (Schpira, Warmaisa, Magenza = SchUM) were highly regarded throughout Western Europe as 'Jerusalem on the Rhine'. They maintained a lively exchange of ideas with one another and were famous for their important yeshivas and their pioneering rabbinical conferences. It is because of this uniqueness that the three cities together aspire to recognition as a World Heritage Site.

The most evidence of Jewish life in the past can be seen in Worms. For this reason, thousands of people come to the historic sites of old Warmaisa year after year. The name of Rashi is a particular draw. The great scholar, who composed the one commentary on the Talmud that is still highly valued today, spent several years studying in Mainz and Worms. Although he later returned to his home town of Troyes, his name is still connected to Worms forever.

The Worms Synagogue, like the other Jewish places of worship in Germany, was completely destroyed in the Night of the Broken Glass on 10th November 1938. Due to a tireless initiative by citizens of Worms, it was possible to rebuild the synagogue in 1959 to 1960 according to old plans and using original materials. Today, Jewish religious services take place here again and Jewish festivals are celebrated, for Jews settled in Worms again in the 1990`s, coming from countries of the former Soviet Union.

The Jewish museum is housed In the Rashi House, which displays ritual instruments and valuable manuscripts, including a copy of the Worms Mahzor , a richly illustrated prayer book from 1272, in which the first sentence is in Yiddish.

The most visited place in old Warmaisa is the 'Holy Sands Cemetery'. Even gentiles are touched by the sight of the old, often half-submerged gravestones that convey a sense of eternity. The oldest stone is from 1076. But many that have now disappeared forever in the sandy earth may be even older. As soon as you go through the little gate from the forecourt with the tahara house and the ritual hand basin into the cemetery, the graves of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg and Alexander ben Solomon of Wimpfen Süßkind will catch your eye. They are covered with little pieces of paper and stones, symbols of particular veneration. Legend tells us that the rabbi was captured and died in prison because he did not want the community to pay a high ransom for him. Solomon Wimpfen ransomed his corpse and had buried here, and he himself rests at his side. Devout Jews also visit the Valley of the Rabbis, where great scholars, such as Yaakov haLevi Molin (Maharil),Elia Loanz and Jair Chaim Bacharach are buried.

Click HERE to view the pictures in the Gallery.

 
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