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July 14, 2020 9:44 am

Ancient Jewish Cemetery in Worms, Germany, Sees Graves Desecrated

avatar by JNS.org

Heiliger Sand Jewish Cemetery in Worms, Germany (prior to July 2020 vandalism). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Graves in the oldest Jewish cemetery in the city of Worms, Germany—and possibly in Europe itself—were recently vandalized.

According to media reports, dozens of graves and tombstones in the Heiliger Sand Jewish Cemetery were desecrated or broken in last week’s attack. The oldest legible headstones at the cemetery date back to 1058.

Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Isaac Herzog said the cemetery, a “testament to a millennium of Jewish life in German lands,” has been the “target of a vile hate crime at a time when rising antisemitism is a shared preoccupation in many countries.”

Herzog made his remarks in a letter sent on Monday to Susanne Wasum-Rainer, Germany’s ambassador to Israel.

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In it, he said that the relations between Israel and Germany were “exceptional and intimate on so many levels … . It is as a sincere friend, therefore, that I urge German authorities to bring to justice those responsible for this hate crime and to restore the damage wrought on the cemetery.”

Among the desecrated tombs was one belonging to the Maharam of Rothenburg, a leading Ashkenazi rabbinic leader who died in 1293, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Worms once had a thriving Jewish population. One of the city’s most famous residents was Rashi—Rabbi Solomon ben Yitzchak—who studied in the city’s yeshivahs in the 11th century, and wrote commentaries on the Torah and Talmud.

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