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Medieval Jewish cemetery in Germany vandalized

A Jewish cemetery in the German city of Worms, which dates back to the 11th century, has been closed after many of its medieval tombstones were vandalized.

Officials in Worms, located near Frankfurt, have confirmed about 18 gravestones were damaged with paint. They have brought in a team of restorers, monument conservationists, stone preservation experts to examine and repair the gravestones.

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The cemetery, known as Heiliger Sand (Holy Sand) was established in the eleventh century by the local Jewish community, with the oldest gravestone showing a date of 1058. There is about 2500 graves on the site, which was used until the early 20th century. The site, along with other Jewish landmarks in Speyer and Mainz, have been proposed to be included into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The decision will be made at the next UNESCO meeting in 2021.

Among the gravestones that was damaged in the attack was the one marking the resting place of Maharam of Rothenburg, a famous 13th century rabbi and scholar.

The site remains closed to the public, and no information about suspects has presented publicly. The city officials announced that “all gravestones that have been stained with paint are now documented. Experts are currently examining how the affected stones can be cleaned. There is already cautious optimism that this can work well.”

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Rabbi Joseph Havlin, a local Jewish leader in Frankfurt, expressed shock at the damage caused at the cemetery. “We are witnessing, and not for the first time, desecration of German cemeteries alongside a disturbing rise in anti-Semitism in the entire public sphere,” he said. “We call on the German government to declare an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism to ensure that such acts do not repeat.”

Top Image: The gravestones of Tombs of Maharam of Rothenburg (left) and Alexander ben Salomon Wimpfen (right) in the Jewish cemetery of Worms – both were vandalized. Image courtesy the city of Worms.

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