ShUM-Sites of Speyer, Worms, Mainz – Jewish heritage for the world
Did you know that…
is an acronym out of the first letters of the medieval Hebrew names for the cities, even going back to the Latin names?
- Shin (Sch) = Shpira = Speyer
- Waw (U) = Warmaisa = Worms
- Mem (M) = Magenza = Mainz
ShUM: more than simply an abbreviation and certainly not a simple crunching together of the names of three cities. ShUM is a full name – along the Rhine River and in the world. ShUM was the cradle of Ashkenazic Jewry.
Discover the Kehillot ShUM with us
During the Middle Ages the Jewish communities in the medieval cities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz formed an association which had a profound influence on the architecture, culture, religion, and jurisdiction of European Jewish Diaspora. This influence continues, even today. Monuments – synagogues, cemeteries, and ritual baths – together with the religious accounts, illustrate and witness the immense significance of the ShUM-Sites.
Echo from the Past
Michael Sill lives in the USA. Between 1964 and 1967 he was stationed in Heidelberg as a member of the American armed forces. During these years he travelled all over the world through all those countries that did not belong to the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet sphere of power. One day, in 1966, he and his girlfriend at the time, Janet, were driving to Worms. Together they visited the old Jewish cemetery »Heiliger Sand«. Both were overwhelmed by this unique, but at that time still rather forgotten place. Sill: »It was a lonely place, as if all people were absent and as if he had been put into a deep sleep.« Two photos mirror this visit. Michael Sill returned to the USA and studied history at the University of Washington. Since he retired, he is travelling again. In spring 2020, he renovated his house and found the two photos. In April 2020 he wrote to the SchUM-Städte e.V. and sent the pictures as an attachment to his e-mail.
These pictures from 1966 tell of a time when the inauguration of the synagogue, which was recovered after the Shoah, was already five years ago. In 1966, only a few Jews lived in Worms. The Jewish sites, however, were destinations for tourists, whether non-Jews or Jews. In addition, many US soldiers stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany at the time were interested in the history of this old city and thus also marveled at the old Jewish monuments.
Michael Sill: »I also accompanied students from the USA to the Dachau Memorial. I am not a Jew, but when I saw the cemetery in Worms, and it looked so abandoned, I thought a lot about it and wanted to know why there was no Jewish community any more«.
The cemetery, owned by the Jewish Community of Mainz, is maintained by the city of Worms and is also a listed building. Thousands of interested people visit this Worms »house of life«. Jews associate here with SchUM and the great Jewish tradition. Non-Jews see the centuries-old Jewish presence in Germany reflected.
The »Heiliger Sand« is part of the nominated ShUM-Sites Speyer, Worms and Mainz and it is hoped that these unique sites will become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021.
The original photos will find a new home in the city archive of Worms.
Imagefilms on ShUM-Sites
Underneath you will find our Teaser with wonderful images from ShUM as well as the sshort version with English subtitles.
A long version with english subtitles is available under: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67F9Y18dgEo
»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 Chasdei and Chachamim Ashkenaz, who shaped (world) Judaism so prominently.«
The Synagogue in Worms. A journey through centuries. A documentary by SchUM-Städte e.V.
Further clips on ShUM
Deutsche Welle TV in ShUM, 2020
Future for Religious Heritage in Europe, Krakau 2018
Becoming a Supporting Member of ShUM-Cities Ass.
The Shum-Cities: A sponsoring membership can e.g. support redevelopment measures on the monuments, the development of educational and museum programs, film screenings, publications and other events. Sponsoring members are informed about strategies and concepts within the framework of the UNESCO application and are invited to meet with other members.
Voices for ShUM: Engagement and Empathy
»Our membership campaign seems to be fruitful. The persons and personalities who engage themselves in the Shum-Cities Ass.are unified in their wish to experience how the Jewish heritage on the Rhine becomes a UNESCO World Heritage.«
(Mayor Michael Kissel, President of ShUM-Cities Association from 2015 to July 2019)
»When I grew up in Worms, with a view of the cathedral and the Jewish cemetery, and as a child, I was able to stay and play between these two poles – perhaps even supplemented by the Luther monument five minutes further – it was unavoidable to form a relationship to this specific Christian-Jewish past. Again and again, as a child, I looked at the small stones on the weathered, obliquely and crooked gravestones stuck in the ground in the Jewish cemetery and tried to imagine what Worms probably looked like a thousand years ago when this cemetery - the oldest in Europe - and the Romanesque Cathedral were erected. Now I have been living in a city with a Christian-Jewish past again, for almost 20 years: in Mainz, the second of the three SchUM-Cities. Reason enough for me to contribute to the preservation and care of this particular heritage.«
(Petra Gerster, editor ZDF)
»One still feels the rabbinic genius loci in the ShUM-Cities. An excursion to these places always gives me inspiration. It is therefore a concern for me to promote the legacy of the ShUM-Cities with my membership.«
(Rabbi Dr Elisa Klapheck, Frankfurt/Main)
»In the 1000 years of Jewish history, monuments were built in the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, which still mirror the significance of Jewish life beyond the borders of our region. In order to preserve this memory, we support the ShUM-Cities Associations’ application of this important cultural property for the title of UNESCO World Heritage.«
(Thorsten Mühl, Chairman of the Board Sparkasse Mainz)
»For many centuries, the Jewish communities of the Rhine towns of Speyer, Worms and Mainz formed a closely interwoven unity. Important scholars developed religious, philosophical and political ideas that were often taken over as binding decisions by the communities. The formative intellectual power of ShUM for Ashkenazi Jewry can not be overstated. Despite the destruction by the National Socialists between 1933 and 1945, there are still significant tangible witnesses to Jewish history in Speyer, Worms and Mainz: Synagogues, ritual baths and the cemeteries. To make sure that these treasures are recognized in their value and maintained in the future, their inclusion in the List of World Heritage is so important. Only in this way can they form the visible and tangible background to the literary heritage in liturgy, preaching, poetry and the order of life from ShUM.
(Prof. Dr. Dr. Otto Böcher, Worms, perished in 02 2020)
Information on forthcoming and past events is available only on the German language version of the website. There you can find an overview of dates, places, and topics.
The Passover holidays are approaching. These, like the Easter holidays, face people with special challenges. Instead of closeness to the family and long walks together, social distancing and virtual meetings are on the calendar. This is a situation that is difficult for everyone - and especially for older and single people. Last but not least - many commemoration ceremonies on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation from National Socialism have been cancelled. The survivors are old people, many in homes and some living alone. They are hit by this time especially hard. Thus, this year's Passover with the idea of freedom has many meanings that we can deal with.
We wish you and your families happy holidays - Passover and Easter - and a healthy and happy reunion for all of you.
UNESCO-Application ShUM-Sites has reached UNESCO!
The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, signed the World Heritage application »ShUM Sites of Speyer, Worms and Mainz« on 13th January 2020 in the New Synagogue in Mainz.
»Rhineland-Palatinate has an extraordinarily rich Jewish history. With our application, we want to emphasize the comprehensive significance of our Jewish heritage and thus keep awareness of German-Jewish history alive,« emphasized Ms Dreyer.
Stefanie Seiler, Mayor of Speyer and Chairwoman of SchUM-Städte e.V.: »ShUM, the association of Jewish communities of the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz in the Middle Ages, was the cradle, center and heyday of European Judaism. This unique cultural heritage must be preserved, which is why I am particularly pleased that we can now take the application for UNESCO World Heritage status together into the home stretch. According to UNESCO's guidelines, World Heritage sites are 'invaluable and irreplaceable assets not only for each people, but for all humanity'. Inclusion of the ShUM Sites in this list would be - especially in times of growing anti-Semitism worldwide - a significant sign that can hardly be overestimated in its effect.«
Anna Kischner, chairwoman of the Jewish Community of Mainz: »I very much hope that the tourists will not only travel to the ShUM Sites to photograph old Jewish stones, but that these stones will tell them something that they can take away in their hearts.«
Under the suprevision of the Ministry of Science, Further Education and Culture experts were bound together since 2016 to work on the Dossier: Reearchers from various universities, the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage, the association SchUM-Städte e.V., the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz and the Jewish Community of Mainz. The nomination dossier particularly highlights the extraordinary universal value of the sites and, in a comprehensive comparative analysis, explains why ShUM is unique. The Management Plan shows how the protection of the sites will be ensured in the future and how the knowledge about their importance will be increased. On January 13, 2020, the state, the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the State Association of Jewish Communities of Rhineland-Palatinate, the Jewish Community of Mainz as well as the Jewish Community of Rhineland-Palatinate signed a continuation of the previous cooperation agreement in order to be jointly active for ShUM beyond the application. With the printing of the approximately 1000 page application and the signature of PM Malu Dreyer, the formal path was taken. The application was submitted in Paris to UNESCO on 23 January 2020. A first decision on the application could be made in June/July 2021 at the annual meeting of the UNESCO committee.
Worms' Jewish History in an App
A storytelling app was developed in a cooperative project between Worms University of Applied Sciences and the SchUM-Cities of Speyer, Worms, Mainz e.V. in order to be able to explore the unique Jewish monuments of the SchUM community of Worms on the move. Visitors can experience the Jewish cemetery "Heiliger Sand" and the Mikwe in Worms with the help of exciting digital stories. Whether Wormser or tourists, a new view of the unique Jewish rooms is guaranteed.
Download and description under:
ShUM is networking across Europe - ShUM as part of an EU network
In August 2018, the starting signal was given: Representatives of Jewish heritage sites in Krakow, Wroclaw, Mantua, Hijar, Worms and the »Foundation for Jewish Heritage« in London got together and began, under the direction of the Partner in Krakow, the Malopolska Institute of Culture, to submit an application for EU funding.
As part of the Europe for Citizens program, they decided to build Moreshet – Jewish Heritage Network. The named cities got together to network on their extraordinary Jewish heritage, which has a variety of similarities and interdependencies, and to gradually involve other cities and institutions. After the timely submission of the application in September 2018, in December 2018 the funds were approved.
The overarching goal is to build a »Jewish Heritage Network« of regions and cities that understand Jewish heritage as part of their cultural heritage in order to facilitate and consolidate dialogue and exchange on the preservation of Jewish heritage and its presentation. Fostering a common European approach to Jewish heritage intercultural dialogue is as much at the forefront as raising awareness of the dangers of intolerance and prejudice. There are (a) ways of working, (b) best practices, (c) new models and (d) experiences of successful and less successful projects. Professionals working with Jewish heritage throughout Europe should guarantee an even more professional and consistent approach to dealing with and preserving Jewish heritage. Following a kick-off seminar in July 2019 in Hijar, Spain, a seminar will be held in Worms in November 2019 on the involvement of young people in the preservation of Jewish heritage.
The Moreshet – Jewish Heritage Network project creates a network of regions, towns and cities that are driven by the aspiration to identify and share best practices and to create a channel for communication between partners. Among the already established networks dealing with Jewish heritage, this one distinguishes the participation and involvement of local administration (local governments).
Cities, municipalities and regions involved in activities for the benefit of Jewish heritage participate in the project. The leader of the project is the Malopolska Institute of Culture in Cracow http://english.mik.krakow.pl/,, the partners are: Wrocław (City of Wrocław), Worms (SchUM-Städte eV), Hijar (Ayuntamiento de Híjar), Mantova (Comunità ebraica di Mantova) and London (Foundation for Jewish Heritage).
Future for Religious Heritage: Conference, Barcelona October 2020
Future for Religious Heritage (FRH) is delighted to announce its seventh biennial international conference from 22th to 23th of October 2020 in Barcelona, Spain.
The conference will provide a forum for policy debate and exchange of knowledge among decision makers, professionals and volunteers in the field of heritage and culture. The 2020 conference theme »Europe’s Living Religious Heritage« will ask questions about the heritage we received from past generations and which we still use. Living religious heritage, in continuous, extended or even new use, can help us to understand the present and to make choices for the future, contributing to the well-being of both heritage and to society as a whole.
The Call for Paper and all relevant information is available under: https://www.frh-europe.org/events/frh-conference-2020-europes-living-religious-heritage/call-for-papers/