Thoughout centuries the Synagogue formed the centre of an incessant Jewish life in Worms. From the oldest building (1034) only the stone donation plaque has been preserved. After the ravages during the Crusades of the 11th/12th centuries a new building in the romanesque style of the architectural school of the cathedral was erected in 1174/75. Already in 1185/86 the ritual bath, the Mikveh, was built according to an inscription that has also been preserved.
As several expertises prove, the masonry of the Mikveh is in an unstable state. A static-constructive expertise from 2014 hints at damages like moisture penetration, cracks and deformations. Intrusion of surface water and the formation of condensate cause surface damages. Earth pressure particularly at the west side where the stairs are causes static damages. Moreover, measuring of airborne germs in 2015 have shown that during the different climates there is a high pollution with germs in the Mikveh.
Dr. Roswitha Kaiser of GDKE makes it clear that first measures have to be taken immediately. This includes planning supporting structures, tooling, bracing as static security, restorative security, and injections as well as drilling and pointing work.
»Regarding the valuable surface parts we need restorative securing soon. In addition there will have to be a provisional safeguarding of the structure as well as first attempts at finding a method of restoring the structure of the masonry as first measures.« explains architect Jürgen Hamm.
The work will be done step by step in about five segments. At present the experts calculate a total time of six to ten years – depending on financing possibilities and state of knowledge.
The ShUM-cities Speyer, Worms and Mainz that for the Jewish world are still important places of Jewish erudition, under the motto »ShUM-cities at the Rhine river – Jewish heritage for the world« together seek recognition as UNESCO world heritage.
The Mikveh, donated in 1185/86 together with the reconstructed Synagogue and the cemetery »Holy Sand« for Worms are quite important for the world heritage application with UNESCO. For more than 800 years the ritual bath has been integral part of this Jewish epicentre. Unfortunately it is in high need of rehabilitation. – This means we must and will start with this rehabilitation in the coming years. This fascinating building shall be preserved for many generations to come and shall bear witness of the importance of Jewry in Worms.
Lord Mayor Michael Kissel, Worms
Mayor Michael Kissel points out especially the importance of the Mikveh and the Jewish heritage for the UNESCO world heritage application. »The Jewish ritual bath as precious cultural monument is an essential part of the ShUM world heritage application«, says the Worms’ Mayor who himself had suggested in 2004 to pursue the entry of Speyer, Worms und Mainz – as ShUM-cities that were important for the development of the Ashkenazic Jewry – into the UNESCO list of world heritages.
In autumn 2012, at the conference of cultural ministers, the nomination of the ShUM-project for the list of German proposals was applied for. In 2014 the ShUM cities had taken the first hurdle: Together with eight further proposals the land nominated them for admission onto the UNESCO list of cultural and natural heritages. The ShUM cities are in fifth place on the list. Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) now has to prepare a copious application for the world heritage committee till 2020. Presumably UNESCO will decide one year later about the definitive admission onto the list.
Good possibilities to earn a living alone were not sufficient for the Jewish settlement in the Ashkenazic ShUM cities. An important precondition for the settlement was the promise of living waterWell
מַעֲיָן – majim chajim – to build a mikveh at the place. For centuries it was held that ›the building of a mikveh has priority over the building of a synagogue.‹ (Maimonides: Mischne Tora, vol. 3). Hence, at places where Jews lived a mikveh often is found. The Worms Mikveh of 1185/86 for centuries offered members of the ›holy community Worms Kahal Kadosch Warmaisa‹ the possibility of ritual cleaning. For Visitors in recent decades the Mikveh as a place of memory offered the possibility of submerging into their own history till down to the sources of the Torah ›However, a well and a Mikveh are pure‹ (Third book Moses / Leviticus 11,36)
Stella Schindler-Siegreich, Chairwoman of the Jewish community Mainz
The Jewish community is owner of the Mikveh as well as the Synagogue and the cemetery Holy Sand in Worms and of the cemetery Jewish Sand in Mainz.
Apart from the secondary sources of images and writings it is the traces of stone that today convey a vivid picture of the rich culture of the Jewish past at the Rhine river. The Worms Mikveh as a medieval ritual bath is an extremely precious building from this past which as a rare monument has to be restored and safeguarded for the future with great protective caution.
Dr. Roswitha Kaiser,
Director of Preservation of Historical Monuments in the General Directorate of Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate
Numerous investigations have preceded the first restorative and static securing measures at the Worms Mikveh before 2015. Measurements, building research, static-constructive expertise, analyses of material were important parts of the actual first measures taken at the Jewish ritual bath, which as valuable cultural monument is an essential part of the ShUM world heritage application. References to the extremely bad state of the loosened masonry are well known, measures therefore urgent.
Dr. Roswitha Kaiser (GDKE)
Jürgen Hamm (Hamm Architektur + Denkmalpflege)