Minister President Malu Dreyer signs the UNESCO-Application "ShUM-Sites", January 13 2020, Mainz
The Prime Minister of Rhineland-Palatinate, Malu Dreyer, signed the World Heritage application »ShUM Sites Speyer, Worms and Mainz« on 13th January 2020 in the New Synagogue n Mainz.
The three Jewish communities in the three cities on the Rhine were the leading Jewish centres in the Middle Ages, both architecturally and religiously. ShUM was a unique association of communities, which still radiates today.
With the printing of the approximately 1000 page application and the signature of PM Malu Dreyer, the formal path was taken. The application will be submitted in Paris on 23 January 2020.
»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.
The document, over 1,000 pages in length, explains the outstandinguniversal value that is necessary for a successful UNESCO application. With their pioneering monuments and traditions, the three Jewish communities have left their mark on Judaism and had a decisive influence on Central and Eastern Europe for several centuries. New types of synagogues, monumental Mikwaot and their own burial culture were created here. With the famous scholars like Raschi, Maharam and Maharil and Gershom ben Jehda, ShUM became the cradle of Ashkenazi Judaism.
A large, dedicated team of scientists from various universities, the Ministry of Science, Further Education and Culture, 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 have been working on the World Heritage application since 2016. 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.
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. Despite the destruction by the National Socialists, important historical monuments have been preserved in all three cities. 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.«
A first decision on the application could be made in June/July 2021 at the annual meeting of the UNESCO committee.
Tour Guides for ShUM - 99 hours learning and debating about ShUM
Tour guides from Speyer, Worms and Mainz were able to celebrate the completion of their tour guide training in time for the signing and handover of the World Heritage application to UNESCO. Accompanying the application of the ShUM Sites for inscription as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, experienced tour guides from Mainz, Worms and Speyer were trained to introduce guests to the ShUM communities and their monuments. On the initiative of the SchUM-Städte e.V. and the tourism experts of the three cities, renowned lecturers from the ShUM application team could be won over for the diverse training topics such as religion and history or methodology and didactics by supporting the Regioakademie of the Bezirksverband Pfalz. The practical preparation and communication of the special features of the ShUM topic took a large part. The tour guides received their certificates on January 14, 2020 at a small ceremony in the presence of the Mayor of Speyer, Stefanie Seiler. Mayor Seiler is also the chairman of the SchUM-Städte e.V.
»With this further education we would like to make a contribution to the increasing demand for spiritual journeys and the wish for a stronger networking of the three cities. In this context, ShUM is developing into an important topic for our target groups, which also include many guests who are following in the footsteps of their own history,« says Gisela Neumeister, chairwoman of the Wormser Gästeführer interest group. For the first time, tour guides from the three cities had come together for a joint further education course. »We benefit from the exchange of experience with our tour guide colleagues and can now jointly conduct one-day and multi-day tours for groups of guests through the ShUM cities«, Neumeister continues.
Documentary on Worms' Synagogue, Premiere, 23 January 2020 in Worms
The synagogue in Worms, which has experienced light but also many dark times, is a central place of remembrance worldwide, a living monument to the eventful history of the Jews.
The synagogue is one of the components of the World Heritage application. It has been rebuilt, changed and modernised again and again. It was an architectural model for other synagogues, embedded in an ensemble that provides information about how an early Ashkenazi community lived. Only a few years after the synagogue celebrated its 900th anniversary in 1934, completely ignored by the non-Jewish German public, Germans destroyed the building and its annexes in the November pogroms of 1938. The reconstruction - the recovery - after 1957 is as unique as the history of the whole place.
The small premiere at the conference centre DAS WORMSER took place on 23 January in front of numerous interested people. There were not enough seats available, so great was the interest.
At the same time a first insight into the interview with Philip Spiers, a descendant of Horst Spies, Jews from Biblis, was shown. Horst Spies was among others a pupil at the Jewish district school in Worms.
Both documentaries are in German and English available and you can see them online:
Moreshet - Jewish Heritage Network in Wroclaw
Under the title »Moreshet - Jewish Heritage Network« a EU-funded cooperation of regions and cities that understand Jewish heritage as part of their cultural history has been established. They strive to perpetuate dialogue and exchange on the preservation of Jewish cultural heritage and its presentation. The promotion of a common European approach to Jewish heritage is as much at the heart of the network as raising awareness of the dangers of intolerance and prejudice. Following a kick-off seminar in the Spanish Hijar in July 2019, a seminar was held in Worms in November 2019, which focused on involving young people in the preservation of Jewish heritage.
From 9 to 11 February 2020, representatives from Krakow, Worms, Hijar, Mantova and London met at Wrocław. The theme of the seminar was »Jewish heritage and local community engagement«. In addition to a city tour and a visit to the old Jewish cemetery, the programme included lectures and presentations. All this in the restored synagogues of the White Stork. There the participants could also see the restored mikvah. The Bente Kahan Foundation and the city of Wroclaw were responsible for the hospitality. A dinner in the community rooms, at the invitation of the Rabbi and his wife, provided a wonderful setting for living Jewish tradition together.