ShUM-Sites Speyer, Worms, Mainz UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE Jewish heritage for the world


SchUM-Stätten Speyer, Worms, Mainz UNESCO-WELTERBE Jüdisches Erbe für die Welt

The ShUM-Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz are UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

Unesco Paris
Unesco Paris© unesco.org

Since July 27, 2021, the ShUM-Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz are UNESCO World Heritage Sites!

The ShUM-Sites include unique, exemplary community centers, monuments and cemeteries. The are outstanding, outstandingly early and in singular density and completeness preserved testimonies of a living Jewish tradition in this region and beyond. The ShUM-Sites bear witness of the network of the ShUM communities in the Middle Ages. In these sites, the power of architectural innovation and outstanding scholarship can be seen. Here, intersections and also exchanges with the non-Jewish surrounding culture emerged. The brightest and darkest times of Jewish history are reflected here. Here stood the cradle of Ashkenazi Judaism and here the centuries-old roots reach into a Jewish present and future.

ShUM שו"ם

an acronym made up of the first letters of the medieval Hebrew city names.

ShUM: a union formed by the Jewish communities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz in the Middle Ages. The three communities have been referred to in this way in Hebrew sources since the 12th century - or simply as: »the communities«.

The outstanding medieval community centers, monuments and cemeteries in Speyer, Worms and Mainz are innovative and exemplary. They tell of Jewish identity, religion, scholarship and resilience. Of rootedness and ruptures, of destruction and new beginnings.


Kehillot ShUM: UNESCO World Heritage!

In the Middle Ages, the Jewish communities of the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz formed an association that shaped the architecture, culture, religion and jurisprudence of the Central and Eastern European Jewish diaspora. Synagogues, women’s shuln, teaching houses and ritual baths in Speyer and Worms as well as the old Jewish cemeteries in Worms and Mainz tell of the immense importance of the ShUM communities.
ShUM has a special sound in the Jewish world to this day.

The ShUM sites attract interested people from many countries. ShUM is a magnetic field. ShUM is architecture, religion, scholarship.
ShUM is 1000 years of Jewish history!
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Speyer, interior of the synagogue in the 12th century (reconstruction)
Dannie Klompsma

»I do not have to explain it to you, but in Ashkenazi Jewish history the Rheinland is the cradle of European Jewry. To be around in the ShUM cities is connecting to the earliest traditions of the pioneer Jews who entered Europe through Rome and Italy. It connects us physically to the Chasidei and Chachmei Ashkenaz, who shaped (world) Judaism so prominently.«

Films about ShUM

Films about the ShUM-Sites in Speyer, Worms and Mainz can be found on this page and on our YouTube channel.

Voices for SchUM

Mayor Stefanie Seiler
Mayor Stefanie Seiler© Karl Hoffmann
Stefanie Seiler Mayor of the City of Speyer/Chairwoman of the Board of SchUM e.V.

»The ShUM-Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz are visible, exceptional Jewish heritage - and since the end of July 2021 also UNESCO World Heritage! To have achieved this goal after many years of intensive research, coordination and creative processes fills everyone involved with great joy. We would like to make the Jewish ShUM World Heritage Site even better known and show at these sites how diverse, innovative and formative the Jewish ShUM communities were. We hope that the three cities and all the guests who stand in amazement in front of and in the synagogues and ritual baths and visit the 'Eternal Places', the Jewish cemeteries, will carry our message further. For appropriate and careful treatment of the ShUM-Sites and for the responsibility we all bear for the Jewish past, present and future.«

Aron Schuster
Aron Schuster© Uwe Steinert
Aron Schuster Director of the Central Welfare Office of Jews in Germany

»For Jewish life in Germany and Europe, the ShUM cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz are of decisive importance. They are the origin of a long and significant history, from the Middle Ages to the present. The traditions rooted in the ShUM communities are still valid today and have an influence on Jewish life worldwide.

Outstanding personalities, such as Rashi and Rabbi Gershom, have had a decisive influence on Ashkenazi Judaism from today's Rhineland-Palatinate.

With the recognition of the ShUM cities as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is possible to preserve the past of this globally unique heritage, bring it into the present and learn from it for the future.«

Petra Gerster
Petra Gerster© Rico Rossival
Petra Gerster Journalist, ZDF editor until the end of 05/2021

»As a woman from Worms, I grew up not only in the shadow of the thousand-year-old cathedral, but also in the immediate vicinity of the equally old Jewish cemetery 'Holy Sand'. Its crooked ancient gravestones - some topped with small stones - were familiar to me as a child and filled me with awe and pride, especially when I heard that this is the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Europe. Together with Mainz and Speyer, Worms formed the center of Jewish life in ancient times, when there was a thriving Jewish culture along the Rhine.

While today everyone knows the significance of the Romanesque cathedrals of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, not many know how much these three cities were also shaped by their Jewish inhabitants. Apart from the cemeteries, synagogues and ritual baths, women's shuln and Rashi's teaching house also bear witness to this. It was high time that ShUM became known as the cradle of Ashkenazi Judaism on the Rhine and was recognized as a World Heritage Site.«

Rabbi Dr. Elisa Klapheck
Rabbi Dr. Elisa KlapheckRafael Herlich
Rabbinerin Prof. Dr. Elisa Klapheck Frankfurt am Main

»You can still feel the rabbinic genius loci in the ShUM Sites. A trip there always gives me inspiration.«

Thorsten Mühl
Thorsten Mühl© Sparkasse Mainz
Thorsten Mühl Chairman of the Board of Sparkasse Mainz

»The 'World Heritage' recognition makes it clear how unique the value of a cultural site is. The ShUM-Sites are not only significant today: many centuries ago, they already formed a network that was - and still is - formative for the architecture, culture, religion and jurisdiction of Judaism in Central and Eastern Europe. With the preservation of the ShUM-Sites, it becomes clear that Jewish life has always had its place in our region. This memory is the true heritage that the remaining historical testimonies show us today and in the future. We are therefore particularly pleased about the recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.«

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Through a supporting membership you fund educational and museum offers, events and the design of information material. Supporting members are informed about strategies of the association and receive further offers.
Every person who supports us in this way is an active ambassador for ShUM!