WORMS, GERMANY (VINnews) — Vandals desecrated dozens of graves in what is believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe in the city of Worms, Germany. The tomb of Maharam Rothenburg which is situated in the cemetery was also vandalized, according to a report by the European Jewish Association (EJA).
Worms was a famous medieval Jewish center, where Rashi established his Beis Midrash in the 11th century. The oldest legible tombstone dates back to 1058/59 and Jews lived in the city for over a thousand years until the Holocaust. Legend has it that they were descended from the tribe of Benjamin which migrated from the land of Israel to Germany.
“The Jewish community in Germany is in shock after unknown individuals vandalized and desecrated dozens of gravestones in the ancient Jewish cemetery in the city of Worms,” the EJA announced.
The community estimates that some 50 to 100 gravestones had been vandalized although it was not yet possible to determine how many graves were affected since many are covered in paint.
Rabbi Joseph Havlin, a Chabad rabbi from the nearby city of Frankfurt, condemned the vandalism as an act of antisemitism.
“We are witnessing, and not for the first time, the desecration of German cemeteries alongside a disturbing rise in antisemitism in the entire public sphere. We call on the German government to declare an uncompromising fight against antisemitism to ensure that such acts do not are no longer repeated,” he said in a media statement.
Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the EJA, blamed the rise in antisemitism in Europe on the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no doubt that the coronavirus crisis has brought with it a sharp rise in antisemitic discourse on the internet, and now that most of the closures have been lifted, we unfortunately see how the toxic discourse on social media is turning into real attacks on Jewish institutions and symbols.”
He added that “We expect the German government to act swiftly not only to renovate the cemetery but to formally declare the adoption of the comprehensive program to combat antisemitism which we have initiated and prepared. These measures include substantial changes to the educational curriculum.”