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October 08, 1993 - Image 64

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-10-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Greater Detroit Chapter of Hadassah

SECOND ANNUAL RUMMAGE SALE

November 18, 19, 21

at

Sarah and Ralph Davidson Hadassah House

PLEASE DONATE CLEAN,
GENTLY-USED

RUTH ROVER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

• Clothing On Hangers, if possible

Women's • Men's • Children's

• Furs, Jewelry, Toys, in good condition

• Linens (Bed and Table), Bric-a-Brac

• Small Household and Electrical Items

(in working order)

Drop off at

SARAH AND RALPH DAVIDSON HADASSAH HOUSE
5030 Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield

(Between Walnut Lake and Lone Pine Roads)

Mondays-Fridays 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
October 27 - November 10

FOR INFORMATION CALL 683-5030 or 357-2920

Tax receipts will be available

Dealt qtee/hcio,

(

(gave you beep lookiltg fog

Of so, we aye pleased to

a/whoa/hoe the fo~~atrdk of

CL.OSET COMPANY)

INC.

Foremost in Design, Installation and Service

626-5520

We have 00111bl/heal
oeittie goti betted.

(

khowiedge

expeittege to

Evhceiteig,
olt
Cat4e

Oaltelt

Voyage To Past
To Trace History

ago

(P.E. ( We o5t 90t deocoott 0/11 aii closet

occe000ltieg wit4 Khotallatio/k.

I

n the quiet central square
called Synagogenplatz, sev-
eral visitors expectantly en-
ter the stone building that
dominates one side of the
square.
Inside, we see a spare, high-
vaulted room with narrow win-
dows, six brass chandeliers, a
central bimah and wooden
pews.
This chapel draws travelers
from far-flung places — 30,000
every year — who come to
Worms, Germany, to see one of
the oldest synagogues in Europe
and one with an illustrious his-
tory.
"I wanted to see it, because it
has a very important place in
Jewish history," says Chanai
Golov, a visitor from Tel Aviv
who, traveling in Germany,
came by train from Frankfurt
to visit the synagogue.
I, too, made a special trip to
this ancient city, coming from
nearby Mainz, where I was
staying, so that I could visit the
Jewish sites of Worms, which
include not only the synagogue
but also the oldest cemetery in
Europe.
The sites are so special that
they are included in secular
guidebooks such as Arthur
Frommer's Germany '93; and
the local tourist office has sev-
eral books about Jewish Worms
— rare for any European city
— which are prominently dis-
played in its window.
Getting off the train, I found
my way to the cemetery just be-
yond the southwest corner of
the city wall, stopping passers-
by to ask the way. They knew
of the cemetery right away and
proudly pointed the way.
Inside the iron gate, I stood
in a tree-shaded area and gazed
at row of weathered sandstone
quartz tombstones: rectangles,
ovals, squares, obelisks, tall
tombstones and squat ones, on
level ground and the hill beyond
the front section.
The oldest stone dates from
1076, and in all, the cemetery
now has about 2,000 tomb-
stones, including a separate sec-
tion for eminent scholars buried
here.
On the stones were names,
dates, towns and villages, often
with both German and Hebrew
— all of it evidence of the active
Jewish life that flourished here
centuries ago.
Then I made my way
through the center of town to
the curving, cobblestoned street
called Judengasse, so named be-
cause this is where Jews once

lived, which opened onto Syna-
gogenplatz.
Now I was standing with oth-
er visitors inside the Rashi Syn-
agogue, named in honor of the
Talmudic commentator Rabbi
Solomn ben Issac, better known
as Rashi, who spent five years
studying in Worms in the 11th
century.
At the time, the city was a
center of Jewish intellectual life,
drawing eminent scholars who
taught at the yeshiva, includ-
ing Issac ben Eleazar ha-Levi
and Jacob ben Yakar.
The Jewish community of
Worms especially flourished

The guide has
learned much about
German Jewish
history during her
20 years on the job.

from the 11th to the 14th cen-
tury, with the scholars of
Worms writing commentary on
the Bible and Midrash.
It was also in Worms that
Martin Luther faced the Impe-
rial Diet in 1521 and refused to
retract his beliefs. By then, and
in the succeeding years, the in-
fluence of the Jewish commu-
nity was decreasing, although
Worms was one of the first Ger-
man cities to elect a Jewish
mayor in 1848.
Since World War II, when
500 Worms Jews died in the
Holocaust, the Jewish commu-
nity has not been re-established.
But Jewish travelers still
make a pilgrimage to Worms
because of its Jewish sites. Now
owned by the Jewish commu-
nity of nearby Mainz, 28 miles
away, these sites are carefully
maintained by the city of
Worms.
The Rashi Synagogue is not
the original structure but a
faithful reconstruction of the
building that was first erected
on this site in 1034. Guide
Paulina Reuter pointed out the
original dedication stone which
is on the outside door, with the
date "1034" clearly etched.
"Visitors are Jewish and non-
Jewish," says Ms. Reuter, who
is available to show visitors the
property and to answer ques-
tions. "And they are from the
whole world."
On a table in the back of the
room, near the box of kippot
which all male visitors are re-
quested to wear, the guest book
VOYAGE page 68

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