Centuries-old mikvah unearthed in former East Germany

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Archaeologists discovered a centuries-old mikvah underneath a vaulted cellar in the former East Germany.

The ritual bath in the town of Schmalkalden is located near “Judengasse,” or “Jews’ Lane,” where a 17th-century synagogue stood until it was destroyed in the Kristallnacht pogrom exactly 77 years ago on Monday, the day the discovery was announced.

The State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology reported that the mikvah, which was found recently beneath a half-timbered building in a zone slated for urban housing construction, may have been built in the late 16th or early 17th century, when the local Jewish population peaked.

Experts have already determined that it had not been used since the 18th century at the latest.

The first records of Jews in Schmalkalden date back to the 14th century.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library online, the oldest mikvah in Germany is in Cologne and dates back to 1170.

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