Worms - Vermayza vies with Trier and Cologne for the title of Germany's oldest city. The Jewish presence there dates back at least as far back as the 10th century and it became one of the preeminent centers of Jewish learning in medieval Europe.
It was also the site of two terrible pogroms -- in 1096 when Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land massacred some 800 Jews and again during the Black Death epidemic of 1348-4, when Jews were accused of poisoning wells and killed in great numbers.
The Worms Jewish cemetery dating back to the 11th century is believed to be the oldest in Europe. The cemetery is a peaceful, evocative place with old, weathered gravestones leaning gently in the shady precincts, their Hebrew inscriptions eroded by centuries of wear. The most famous belongs to Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg who was born in Worms around the year 1215 and became the leading authority of his day on the Talmud and Jewish law.
The other notable Jewish site in Worms is the Rashi synagogue, which dates from 1175. In the adjoining museum devoted to the history of the Jews of Worms. The synagogue with its adjoining mikve (ritual bath) and circumcision room have been so faithfully reconstructed -- but the buildings stand more as a reminder of what used to be than a living center of worship, scholarship or communal life.
Tthere is a chilling photograph in the museum of the synagogue going up in flames during Kristallnacht in 1938 when much of the Jewish Quarter was destroyed.hat was effectively the end of the Jews of Worms. Those who could not get out of Germany were eventually deported to death camps.
- Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki (Rashi), who studied in the Worms Yeshiva in 1065 to 1070
- Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg, German rabbi and poet, a major author of the tosafot.
- Curtis Bernhardt, German Jewish film director
- Friedrich Gernsheim, German composer, conductor and pianist
- Samuel Adler, a noted Reform rabbi, was born in Worms
- Hugo Sinzheimer, German legal scholar, member of the Constitutional Convention of 1919
- Ida Straus, wife of Isidor Straus, co-owner of the Macy's department store, and famously loyal to her husband on board the RMS Titanic