Jewish History

Jewish Museum SchPIRA © Klaus Venus
The Jewish community contributed very significantly to the city's economic surge during its heyday from the 11th to the 13th centuries. Speyer's prominent position in Jewish history is made abundantly clear when you visit the Jewish Museum in Berlin, for example. Their permanent exhibition presents Speyer alongside Worms and Mainz, the so-called SCHUM-cities (Hebrew for garlic, so-named after the Hebraic first letters of these cities' names) as centers of Jewish scholarship in Western Europe.

Speyer's synagogue, dedicated in 1104, marked the ascent of the most significant Jewish community in what later became known as the Palatinate. Under the protection of Emperor Henry IV (1056-1106), it forged a religious and intellectual center. TMikwe © Thomas Haltnerhe community maintained a "Yeshiva", as the school to train scribes was called. Trainees came from everywhere in order to learn from the wise men of Speyer.

The remains of the synagogue, the women's prayer room which was added after 1230, and the Mikveh of 1128, the oldest preserved ritual bath in Middle Europe, are consdered cultural landmarks of the first order. The SchPIRA Museum was designed to preserve the findings that commemorate Speyer's great Jewish past.

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