WORMS, Germany – The German city of Worms formerly known as “Little Jerusalem” is celebrating its rich Jewish heritage on the eve of the 80th anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” or the Night of Broken Glass, a violent night of attacks carried out in Nazi Germany against Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship.
Worms, in Hebrew Warmaisa, is considered one of the best representations of European Jewish architecture and history with over ten centuries of tradition etched on the cities walls and streets, including the oldest Jewish synagogue and cemetery on the continent.
“Worms – in Hebrew “Warmaisa” – boasts a unique testimony to its eventful history of Christians and Jews living together, and as “Little Jerusalem” has become well known and has had a significant influence in the Jewish world,” the Worms tourism website explained in a statement on their website.
“An important Jewish community existed here without interruption between around 1000 CE and the dark years of Nazi rule, and there is a great deal of visible evidence still today, despite the considerable destruction at various times, “ the worms tourism website added.
The Jewish “Holy Sands” cemetery, considered the oldest of its kind in Europe, is remarkably well preserved given it has been in active use for nearly 900 years and its many rickety tombstones are beautifully inscribed making it a hauntingly beautiful place.
Worms also boast the oldest European Synagogue which dates back to 1034 and still preserves a stone foundation panel from the first building.
The synagogue was destroyed in the 11th and 12th centuries during the crusades – Medieval religious wars that targeted any non-Christian religions and paganism – and a new building was erected on the Romanesque style.
Over the centuries various annexes including a women’s synagogue, an underground bath (Mikvah) and a petite schoolroom were added, creating a hub that became the cultural and religious center for the Worms Jewish community.
The Jewish complex of Worms was burned and destroyed during Nazi Germany but have since been rebuilt and restored.