There was a Jewish Community in Worms for an uninterrupted period lasting more than 900 years. Many architectural reminders have survived and bear witness today to the former importance of Jewish Worms.
Insights into Jewish history since the Middle Ages, into Jewish traditions and religious life, and also reminders of the events during the tyranny of Nazi rule from 1933 on – all this awaits you in the Jewish Museum Worms.
The Jewish Museum, built and maintained by the City of Worms, can be found in the Rashi House, Hintere Judengasse 6. It occupies rooms on the ground floor and in the cellar, and the upper floors of the building house the Worms City Archives with its collection of photographs, and the city’s historic monuments authority.
The Jewish Museum in the Rashi House is located on a site steeped in history, as the building rests on the medieval foundation walls and cellar vaults of the former dance and wedding house and school (yeshiva) of the Jewish community and thus where Jewish traditions were once lived and taught.
The Rashi House stands next to the synagogue, first mentioned in 1034, and on the site which is assumed to be where the school (yeshiva) stood in which the famous Jewish scholar Rashi studied around 1060.
The museum occupies the cellar vaults and parts of the ground floor, and these parts of the building date from the late medieval period. The rest is a modern construction completed in 1982 and in a style that reflects that of the original building.
The various uses to which the building was put include being accommodation for the rabbi, a dance and wedding house and thus also a meeting place for the community, and adaptation as a Jewish Hospital around 1850. Not much research has been done on the details of the building’s construction history and the development of its various functions, as records are difficult to trace.
The building, which was not destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, had a traditional prayer room on the first floor and housed the Jewish Old People’s Home up to the time of Nazi rule. For many Jews who were unable to emigrate it was therefore the last place they stayed before they were deported in 1942.
After 1945, the building was sold to the City of Worms, used as accommodation for the homeless and fell into increasing disrepair. In this dilapidated state it was demolished in June 1971 with no consideration given to its potential significance as a historic monument. Only the vaulted cellar survived.
From the end of the 1960s, there were efforts by various groups to establish on this site a cultural institution as a reminder of the history of Jewish Worms and at the same time of the Jewish Museum that had stood near the synagogue from 1924 on. Most of the exhibits in this museum were destroyed when the synagogue was burned down 1938, and only a few Judaica in the present museum are survivors from the collection in that earlier museum.
Following a concept of city archivist Fritz Reuter, who was a strong advocate of a Jewish Museum, plans were developed from 1977 on for a new building on the old foundations which was to house a museum and the City Archives. This new cultural institution of the City of Worms was inaugurated in November 1982 as the Rashi House, and since then it has presented the history of the Jewish community and their religion and sought to function as a place where people from different cultures can meet and do research.
The Rashi House is also where the City of Worms coordinates its participation in the application by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to have the Jewish cultural heritage of the three ShUM Cities on the Rhine (Speyer, Worms and Mainz) recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.