My daughter just took a boat cruise down the Rhine River with her husband and brought back a few brochures about our history. The Jews of Worms were my biggest interest as that was a center for many of the rabbis, and the rabbi of Worms was an ancestor or ours.
|Mainz, Germany on the Rhine,|
|Worms, Germany and its bridge on the left side on the Rhine River|
Spain massacred 12,000 Jews in mob violence in Toledo in 1355. By 1492 in the Spanish Inquisition they expulsed 180,000 Jews. 50,000 converted to Christianity who were then allowed to remain in Spain. They came to be later called the Marranos and now are called the Anusim, a Hebrew word. Many are returning to Judaism. Hungary expelled Jews in 1349 through 1360. Jews were expelled from Lithuania in 1495. Countries ran hot and cold towards Jews, depending on the fervor of the Christians and the needs of commerce. For that, they really needed the Jews.
|Jews of 13th Century in Germany|
The most prominent scholars of Speyer have been the following: In the eleventh century: Kalonymus ben Moses, Jekuthiel ben Moses, Moses ben Jekuthiel, Judah ben Kalonymus, and David ben Meshullam.
Together, Speyer, Worms and Mainz were known as the "ShUM towns," the first letters of their Hebrew names. They were the source and the center of Ashkenazic tradition and had a strong influence on the spiritual and intellectual life of Jews in all of Western Europe.
In the 14th century, the coexistence of Jews and Christians, which up to then were peaceful, was marred by increasing waves of anti-Jewish sentiment. Envy and resentment caused discrimination, calumnies and persecutions.
Around the year 1500, the history of the medieval Jewish community of Speyer came to an end.
|Rebuilding Synagogue in Speyer|
|Remains of Mikva looking down from a floor above|
In 1689, Speyer was destroyed in the Palatine War of Succession and the former synagogue also went to ruin. By 1999, the city of Speyer acquired properties in the area of the former Jewish quarter where archaeologists excavated and examined the ruins so the Tourist Office opened the area to visitor in 2001. By 2010, artifacts kept in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate and State Office were returned to the area of their original use. What survived were the 2 double-arched windows originally part of the west wall of the medieval synagogue. They were found nearly intact and at their original location. They were removed and stored in the Museum in 1899. Traces of fire bear witness to the windows' nearly 800 years of use.
|Today's Jewish Cemetery in Speyer, Germany|
|Worms, Germany Jewish Cemetery|
2. Genennchen and Moses, 1380. Genennchen was the daughter of Israel the Levite who was buried here on the 3rd day of the week, the 1st day of Kislev in the year 5141. May her soul be part of the bundle of life in the Garden of Eden, Amen, Amen, Sela. Moses and Genennchen were brother and sister. She died on October 30, and Moses on December 5th in the year of 1380. They were buried in a double grave with a common gravestone.
3. Baruch, 1365. He was the perfect hero, son of Elieser, who passed away with a good name on the night of the 3rd day of the week, the 15th day of the 1st Adar in the year (5)125. The scholar, Rav Baruch ben Elieser, died on 11 March 1365. After he had escaped the plague pogrom of the year 1349 (the time of wrath), he took in and fed his persecuted co-religionists.
4. Gravestone of Blume, 1365. She was the daughter of Jacob the scholar who was buried here on the 3rd day of the week, the 15th day of Tevet in the year (5)126 of the 6th millennium. May her soul be in the Garden of Eden, Amen, Sela. Her name is carved in the stone as an ornament. Speyer's deed as a town was dated 25 December 1358 and mentions Blume as an unmarried or widowed woman. She died on 30 December 1365 . There were spelling errors found. Christian craftsmen made gravestones by copying from models and the strange letters written from right to left must not have been easy for them to decipher.
5. Gravestone of Yachent, 1371. She was the daughter of Rabbi Joseph, who passed away on the 1st day of the week, the 13th of Tevet in the year 5132. May her soul be part of the bundle of life together with other charitable women in the Garden of Eden, Amen, Amen, Sela. she died on December 21 1371. She was revered, elderly and worthy.
6. Gravestone of Senior, 1368. This was the young Senior, son of Abraham who passed away on the 4th day of the week, the 24th day of Marcheshvan in the year 5129. May his soul be in the Garden of Eden. He was unmarried and died on November 8, 1368. His grave was desecrated less than 50 years later.
In the 15th century, the Christians drove the Jews from the town of Speyer and destroyed their cemetery. Senior's gravestone was cut to size and used as building material for the Salt Tower Bridge, a medieval bridge built to span the Speyer River. The bridge was town down in 1908 and recovered with other Jewish gravestones of the same period.
By the 15th century, after the Jews of Speyer had been hit by exclusions from certain professions and by residential restrictions that robbed them of the basis for their livelihood in the town, the Jewish community of Speyer had vanished.
German translated by Nicole Gentz.
Resource; Museum SchPIRA, Wand-und Objekttexte
Judenhof, the edieval synagogue, The ShPIRA museum
Added: 9/8/15 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/vjw/germany.html