'Mikveh' Ritual Jewish bath

It is known that there was a Jewish community based at the Kaiserslautern Altenhof in the 14th century – sources from the time report a Jewish school or synagogue. Nevertheless, there was not one remnant of Jewish history and culture in Kaiserslautern following the demolition of the 19th-century oriental-style synagogue during the Nazi era. However, 1995 saw a sensational discovery during excavations: a Jewish ritual bath from the 14th century.

The mikveh was unearthed by chance during extension work on the Kreissparkasse bank in Altenhof: in fact excavations of the remaining open spaces of the "villa luthra" (i.e. in the historic farmyard south of the Lauter) were possible at that time. Even historians who knew of the former existence of a Jewish community in this area were absolutely amazed by the discovery of the mikveh: it is a 14th-century ritual Jewish bath, measuring 2.50 x 2.50 m, carved into the rock. It still has a groundwater inlet, though it had been filled with cultural debris from the period around 1400, following the Jewish community's expulsion from Kaiserslautern in 1398.

It is thanks to the financial commitment made by the Kreissparkasse Kaiserslautern that this important monument of Jewish culture could be preserved: it was protected by means of a shelter, and can be viewed as part of a guided tour.