About Worms Synagogue
Though Worms Synagogue (also known as Rashi Shul) is a relatively new synagogue, it was built next to the remains of one that was completed in 1175. It is located in Worms, a city in Rhineland-Palatinate Germany.
History of Worms Synagogue
Prior to the Second World War, Worms had one of Germany’s oldest Jewish communities, with a synagogue having existed on the site as early as 1034. This original synagogue was destroyed by Crusaders in 1096 and was thus succeeded by the twelfth century Romanesque incarnation.
The community and existence of the synagogue as a place of worship and study made Worms the spiritual and cultural hub of Judaism during the Middle Ages.
The original twelfth century synagogue was burnt down as part of the World War II Nazi Kristallnacht in 1938, in which hundreds of Jewish sites were destroyed.
The synagogue was painstakingly reconstructed in 1961, using as many of the original stones which could be salvaged as possible.
Nearby is a twelfth century subterranean mikveh complex. Mikveh are baths used in the Jewish faith to achieve purity.
Worms Synagogue Today
Today, all that remains of the old Worms Synagogue is a wall with an inscription of the site. The synagogue, however, is used as both a place of worship and as a museum.
The synagogue was built at a time where the late Romanesque style was fading, and the Gothic was rising. As a result the prayer hall features Romanesque columns, while the windows are thick gothic arches. Throughout the rest of the building are a combination of Romanesque and Gothic windows and features.
With over 2000 graves, the Jewish cemetery of Worms is the oldest preserved in Europe. It is a popular pilgrimage site, with numerous small scrolls of paper slipped between the bars of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg’s tomb attesting to the reverence of the site and the frequency with which it is visited.
Together with the synagogue and museum, the site is popular among locals and tourists alike for worship and to admire its beautiful architecture.
Getting to Worms Synagogue
From the centre of Worms, Worms Synagogue is reachable in around 5 minutes by car via Friedrich-Ebert-Straße and Siegfriedstraße, or 15-20 minutes via Friedrich-Ebert-Straße.