Germany: Tombstones vandalized in Europe’s oldest Jewish cemetery dating back to the 11th century

Dozens of gravestones in the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe, the Heiliger Sand in the German city of Worms, were desecrated last week.

The attack took place Thursday and was reported on Friday. At least 50 gravestones in the medieval Jewish cemetery were smeared with paint.

A woman the local media said appeared “confused” was arrested.

An investigation is underway but the city has already ruled out antisemitism as a motive for the anti-Semitic hate crime.

The community in the city, renowned for counting the famous medieval French rabbi Rashi among its residents at one point, was established in the 11th century.

Among the tombstones vandalized belonged to the Maharam of Rothenburg, one of the chief Ashkenazi rabbis of the medieval period who was famous for opposing domestic violence against women, and for being a major contributor to the tosafot on Rashi’s commentary.

The oldest still-legible tombstone dates back to 1058/59, and thousands still visit the cemetery every year.

“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 European Jewish Association announced.

“We currently do not know what material the paint is made of and how we can remove the smears without damaging the valuable tombstones,” Mayor Hans-Joachim Kosubek said on the city web site.