Readers, Welcome to my blog (formerly Birds, Blooms, Books, etc). I'm entering a new decade taking on the challenge of moving from Maryland after living there 46 years and learning about my new home here in New England in the Live Free or Die state - New Hampshire. Join me as a write this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Speyer - Part 3

This is my last post on my visit to Speyer and probably the most fascinating part of this town's history.

Quoting again from The Daily Cruiser we received each night:

"The first Jewish community emerged in Speyer at the instigation of the bishop.  In 1084, Bishop Rudiger Human invited Jews to move to Speyer and settled them in the former suburb of Altspeyer which he had surrounded by a wall for their protection.

Along with this invitation, the bishop granted the Jews the rights and privileges which went well beyond contemporary practice.  They were confirmed by the emperor Henry IV I 1090 and became an example for Jews' privileges in many cities in the empire.

A Jewsih quarter soon also developed next to the bishop's district near the cathedral.  Its center, the Jew's Court, contained men's and women's synagogues and the Mikveh (ritual bath).  The ruins of the Speyer Synagogue are the oldest visible remnants of such a building in Europe.

What the synagogue would have looked like outside and 


The Mikveh (below) first mentioned in 1126, has remained unchanged to this day and is still supplied by fresh groundwater.

"For two centuries, the Speyer Jewish community was among the most important of the Empire and in spite of pogroms, persecution and expulsion, had considerable influence on Ashkenazi culture and the spiritual and cultural life of the town.  Nevertheless, anti-Semitism and persecution were no less violent in Speyer than in other places and the Jewish community shared the fate of most.  The Yiddish surnames Spira, Shapira and Shapiro possible derive from Shpira, the Hebrew name for Speyer".

I asked the guide what happened to the Mikveh in the time of the Nazi and the answer was nothing.  It was not purposely destroyed as synagogues were.  It was likely used for storage.