SchUM Cities on the Road to World Cultural Heritage Designation

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Logo of the SchUM cities

Article from "Deutsche Welle"

"Deutsche Welle" has published a multimedia article on the application of the SchUM cities for the World Heritage Site. You can find the article here.

SchUM Cities on the Path to World Cultural Site Status

“For the Rhineland-Palatinate, this is marvelous news. With today’s decision, the cultural ministers’ conference has underlined the great importance of the SchUM cities for the development of all of European Judaism and affords a good chance for the World Cultural Site title. I would like to most heartily thank all of the participants who took part in the nomination effort”, said Doris Ahnen who likewise participated in the cultural ministers’ conference.

Remains of the walls of the medieval synagogue in the jewish court
Walls of the medieval synagogue

Based on an expert evaluation, a total of nine of the states’ cultural assets as proposed by those states and upon which an unusually universal value has been certified will be reported for acceptance into the UNESCO list of world cultural and natural heritage sites. The SchUM cities are positioned in 5th place; that means that the Rhineland Palatinate must put together a comprehensive application to the World Cultural Committee by the end of 2020. It is expected that the final decision on admission onto the World Cultural Site list will be made one year later. “The State will use the time and immediately start to work out, with the requisite care and quality, a persuasive application that will then be submitted to the UNESCO”, according to Ms. Ahnen. In so doing, the Rhineland-Palatinate continues to count on the close collaboration between the participating municipalities and the representatives of the Jewish communities with whom the state signed a cooperation agreement in June 2012 and with whom it prepared the nomination of the SchUM Cities. The University of Trier will also be substantially involved in the development of the final application.

Entrance to the Mikveh in the Jewish court

One step foreseen for the second half of 2014 is the founding of an association in which, in addition to the State, the cities of Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the Jewish community of Mainz, the Jewish cultural community of Rhineland-Palatinate and the State Association of Jewish communities of the Rhineland-Palatinate will join forces. It will be their task, in combination with other institutions, clubs and interested private persons to tap into and present the Jewish heritage in the SchUM cities. Together, they will develop educational and touristic offerings that will awaken interest in the SchUM cities both domestically and abroad and make them better known.

Capital of the medieval ritual bath (Mikveh)

With their Jewish centers, Speyer, Worms und Mainz served as “cradles of scholarship” for European Judaism during the Middle Ages. As a result of the intense interchange between the neighboring cities, each with their important Talmud schools, a unique bond developed, starting in the 11th century — a bond that played a decisive role in shaping the culture, religion and intellectual life of European Judaism. Unique ritual structures, beaming their messages throughout Europe, contributed to an era during which the Middle Ages flowered. The word SchUM is an acronym from the first letters of the Hebraic names of Speyer, Worms and Mainz during the Middle Ages: Schin (Sch) for Schpira, Waw (U) for Warmaisa and Mem (M) for Magenza.

Since 2006, it has been the stated goal of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to have these SchUM cities’ Jewish inheritance from the Middle Ages entered into the list of UNESCO World Cultural sites. Were it to happen, the number of World Cultural sites in the Rhineland-Palatinate would climb to five, joining the Speyer Cathedral, the Roman monuments in Trier, the cultural landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley and the Germanic Rhaetian Limes.

Alongside the application for the SchUM cities, the Rhineland-Palatinate has also submitted an extension application for the Speyer Cathedral to be joined by the Romanesque cathedrals in Mainz and Worms as well as an application for the Sayner Hütte iron works. Doris Ahnen: “These two proposal are outstanding examples of the great inheritance of cultural history in our state. That is why we would like to continue to campaign in the coming years for inclusion in the national list of recommendations.

Media info of the Ministry for Education, Scholarship, Advanced Education and Culture, dated 13 June 2014.