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920-yea-old “rashi Synagogue” in Worms Unlikely to Be Rebuilt

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Reports in the Berlin press that the ancient “Rashi Synagogue” here, used by the great Biblical commentator of the 11th century, is to be reconstructed were established today to have little basis in fact.

Built in 1034, the venerable edifice was in constant use as a house of prayer until Nazi vandals dynamited it during the November pogroms of 1938. The famed “Rashi Chair” was later salvaged from the wreckage, together with some tablets and a number of ritual objects. They are now showpieces of the local St. Andrew’s Museum, where devout Jews visit them on occasion. The centuries-old archives of the Worms Community are also at the disposal of interested scholars.

Today, however, two old women are the entire resident Jewish population of Worms, one of the three Rhine cities–Speyer, Worms and Mainz–known and renowned in the Middle Ages among Jews everywhere as communities of wealth and learning, distinguished by the Hebrew abbreviation of “SHUM.” Newspaper stories to the effect that the spokesmen of German Jewry are anxious to have the Synagogue rebuilt are not to be taken seriously, since there is no chance that a Jewish congregation will arrise again. The Kehillah at Mainz, which encompasses Worms, knows as little about such plans as does the Central Council of the Jews in Germany.

Shortly after American troops occupied Worms in 1945, the Military Governor encouraged the city’s Custodian of Monuments, Dr. Illert, to have the entranceway to the synagogue reconstructed with the original stones that were still littering the area. He also had the ancient cemetery put in order.

The Mayor of Worms is among those who would like to have restored as tourist attraction, this building, which until its destruction was Europe’s oldest synagogue still in use. The total cost is estimated at 200,000 Marks. His attempt to secure a good part of the necessary sum from the state or federal governments has met with little success so far.

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