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Jewish community archive

The originals of the important archive documents of the former Jewish community have been in Jerusalem since 1957. They go back to the 16th century. These documents are stored in digital form in the city archives in Worms.

documents from the jewish community archive (picture from 1947) 
documents from the jewish community archive (picture from 1947)
one of the most popular prayer books in Hebrew: the Worms Machsor from 1272 (picture: City archive Worms) 
one of the most popular prayer books in Hebrew: the Worms Machsor from 1272 (picture: City archive Worms)

An eventful history

The documents go back to the 16th century, and since their discovery in 1877 they have provided records of an eventful history.

The files and documents were discovered by chance in the attic of the synagogue in 1877 and were soon subject to scientific scrutiny. Some of them were exhibited publicly in the 1920s, and following the burning down of the synagogue in 1938, they were confiscated by the Gestapo (the secret police) and taken to Darmstadt. The former director of the city archives and museum in Worms, Dr. Friedrich Illert, succeeded in having these irreplaceable documents returned to Worms, where they survived the war undamaged.

After a lengthy legal battle concerning where they should be kept, a settlement was reached in the 1950s as a result of which the original documents – including the famous Worms mahzor dating from 1272 (a selection of prayers and parts of the Bible that are read out on Jewish festivals) were taken to the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People in Jerusalem in 1957. These documents, in the form of parchment or paper, are there today.

Digital forms of the documents are kept in the city archives in Worms on microfilm and CD-ROM.