Worms 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.
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 Jewish cemetery Holy Sands, the Jewish hall of mourning built in the Art Nouveau style, the Jewish quarter of the city with its synagogue and ritual bath (mikvah), and the Jewish Museum, which stands on a site of historical significance.
There is probably no other city in Europe with so many important architectural reminders of its rich Jewish history and tradition going back ten centuries as “Varmayza”, the Hebrew name for the city of Worms.
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In the Middle Ages, the Jewish communities in the Middle Rhine cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz formed a union that had a deep and authoritative influence in cultural, religious and legal matters throughout the Jewish diaspora in central and eastern Europe. The acronym ShUM was used to refer to this union, and it consists of the first letters of the Hebrew names of these three cities, which were based on their medieval Latin names:
Shin (Sch) = Shpira = Speyer
Waw (U) = Warmaisa = Worms
Mem (M) = Magenza = Mainz
They were once important seats of Jewish learning, and the ShUM cities have adopted the motto “ShUM Cities on the Rhine – A Jewish Heritage for the World” and, together with their Jewish communities and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, are seeking recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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