(JHE) — A small visitors’ center has been opened at the historic Beth Haim Portuguese Jewish cemetery in Ouderkerk, completing a development project for the cemetery launched in 2014 on the 400th anniversary of its foundation in 1614.
Around 28,000 people are believed to be buried in the cemetery. Many of the older gravestones bear extremely elaborate carved decoration — and 3D digital models of 100 of them are now uploaded online.
The compact brick building, called the Coronel Pavilion, was opened November 30. It is named after the late Jacques Coronel, who was head of Amsterdam’s Portuguese Jewish congregation and died in 2017.
Its exterior features a large sculptural marble map of the cemetery, while inside a 10-minute video and a small exhibition provide an introduction to the history of Beth Haim and the Portuguese-Jewish community, and to the artistic carvings on the old gravestones.
“The film can be heard in Dutch and is subtitled in English,” the cemetery web site states.
Three showcases in the pavilion give a further substantive depth to this experience. For example, a model in one of the display cases shows how many graves have sunk into the ground over the years and in another display case, a 1: 1 detail of the tomb of Mozes de Mordechai Senior, milled out of Carrara marble, can be seen.
The web site notes that Coronel Pavilion “is the final piece of the ‘Based on Tradition’ plan, which was initiated in 2014, 400 years after the inauguration of Beth Haim to make the cemetery more accessible.”
Jacques Coronel was instrumental in developing this project. Much of the plan, as well as the architecture and content of the pavilion, were designed by Jan Loerakker and Herman Kossmann.
All parts of this plan have now been realized: new paths have been laid, new fences have been placed and stairs and bridges have been installed to open up the inaccessible parts of the cemetery.
In addition, the Beth Haim App has been launched, which takes visitors along the many special graves. […] Rest benches have been set up in pleasant places along the paths.
Many of gravestones are marked with signage identifying the person buried there, and now — “a selection of 100 gravestones has been scanned in 3D, with which they are permanently preserved for posterity.”