Jewish Cemetery at Worms Desecrated; Among Oldest in Europe

The ancient Jewish cemetery at Worms, near Mains, believed to be one of the two or three oldest Jewish cemeteries in Europe to come down through the last 1,000 years intact, has been desecrated by vandals. A total of 138 tombstones were smashed.

Although the attack was carried out a month ago Jewish authorities were not informed of it until this week. Only two Jewish families remain in Worms and the cemetery is under the administration of the Mainz community, which has demanded police action in the face of evident official indifference. When Jews from Mainz inspected the cemetery they found that the Worms’s municipal authorities had attempted to hide the effects of the desecration by hurriedly propping up some of the stones and removing smashed pieces.

The municipality of Worms had accepted responsibility for maintenance and care of the cemetery, in return for which the Jews had agreed to lend the local museum valuable ritual and art objects dating back to the Middle Ages. Among these was a chair used by Rashi, the noted Biblical commentator of the 11th century. Rashi studied at a local yeshiva in Worms.

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