The Jewish Cultural Quarter in Amsterdam comprises several museums, institutions, and heritage sites: The Jewish Historical Museum (located in four synagogues), the JHM Children’s Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, the Ets Haim Library, the National Holocaust Memorial Hollandsche Schouwburg, and the National Holocaust Museum.
Its web site has extensive digital resources on Jewish history and heritage in Amsterdam itself but also throughout the Netherlands.
There is an interactive map and a detailed list of towns, cities and villages with links to historical information, photos, and information on heritage and heritage sites.
A long-term joint digitization project of the Dutch Jewish Community and Akevoth (Dutch Jewish Genealogy organization). The project includes photographing, digitizing and uploading images of gravestones in Jewish cemeteries, translating the epitaphs, and mapping the cemeteries. Databases have been uploaded onto the site — which so far in only in Dutch.
A Christian organization established in 1985 through which Christian volunteers clean up and repair Jewish cemeteries in The Netherlands. according to the web site, the Dutch Jewish Community annually points out one or more cemeteries where maintenance work is most needed. To date the group has worked in more than 100 cemeteries.
Images from Stephanie Comfort’s collection.
Four key institutions and sites of Jewish heritage in the heart of the historic Jewish district of Amsterdam were formally linked as the Jewish Cultural Quarter, which was inaugurated on Oct. 23, 2012, the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish Historical Museum. They include the Jewish Historical Museum, the important Ets Haim library), the JHM’s Children’s Museum, the Portuguese Synagogue, and the former Hollandsche Schouwburg theatre, which was turned into a detention center in 1942 and is now a war memorial.
There are several Jewish cemeteries in and around Amsterdam.
Nieuwe Amstelstraat 1
1011 PL Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 5 310 310
Fax: +31 (0)20 5 310 311
The museum is housed in four former Ashkenazic synagogues dating from the 17th and 18th centuries: the New Synagogue (1752); the Great Synagogue (1671); the Obbene Shul (1685) and the Dritt Shut (1700/1778).
The Museum’s web site includes an interactive map and listings that provide addresses of nearly 40 Jewish Historical (and Other) Sites in Amsterdam, including synagogues, cemeteries, businesses, monuments, homes, and other places.
Mr. Visserplein 3
1011 RD Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (0)20 5 310 380
Known as the Esnoga or Snoge, the synagogue was inaugurated in 1675. It is still used for services but it also open to the public. It conserves an exceptional collection of Sepharidc ritual objects and sometimes holds concerts and special exhibits.
The synagogue was established by descendants of Sephardic refugees from Iberia: the arrangement follows Sephardic style, with the bimah and Ark at opposite ends of the sanctuary. When inaugurated, the stately brick building, with big arched windows was the largest synagogue in the world. The building survived World War II intact and, though restored various times over the centuries, retains its 17th century character. The informative synagogue web site has a detailed history of the synagogue building and congregation.
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel
Mob. +31 (0) 6 5372 5335
The historic Portuguese-Jewish cemetery in the village of Ouderkerk, about eight km from Amsterdam, dates from 1614 and is one of the oldest Sephardic cemeteries in Europe. Occupying four hectares, it includes more than 27,500 graves. most of them marked by flat slab tombstones in the Sephardic style. Many have very artistically carved decoration. Among those buried here are the parents of the philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Already a century ago, David Henriques de Castro catalogued of the oldest burial plot, together with the inscriptions on the stones. He restored a number of memorials, and in 1883 published a book “Keur van Grafstenen” (Selected Gravestones.) The cemetery web site has many resources and links. Restoration work is ongoing — but has been stalled for lack of funds.
Founded in 1714, mainly for the poor, it has as an estimated 95,000 graves and is the largest Jewish cemetery in the Netherlands. Some 70 percent of those buried there are children under the age of 13. The cemetery is protected by a wall and locked gates, but most of it is heavily overgrown with reeds and brambles. Around two dozen gravestones have been restored and re-erected, at the front of the cemetery.
Muiderberg Jewish Cemetery
Googweg 6, Muiderberg
The oldest Ashkenazi cemetery in Amsterdam, founded in the 1640s. There are an estimated 45,000 graves.
See: Kroger, Jelka. “Jewish Cemeteries in the Surroundings of Amsterdam: The burial-register of the Jewish cemetery at Muiderberg as a source of biographical, demographical and socio-historical information.” Studia Rosenthaliana. Vol. 23 (Fall 1989), pp. 188-190
ELSEWHERE IN THE NETHERLANDS
As noted above, the web site of the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam has extensive resources on Jewish history and heritage throughout the Netherlands. There is an interactive map and a detailed list of towns, cities and villages with links to historical information, photos, and information on heritage and heritage sites. We provide here material on places that have their own web sites or other web resources.
DIEREN (GELDERLAND PROVINCE)
A small brick synagogue building with tall arched windows, dating from 1884. It was used as a smokehouse after World War II. The building was acquired in April 2007 by the “De Dierense Shul” foundation which began efforts to restore it. The building was reconsecrated on 7 March 2010. Now services of the liberal Jewish community take place in the synagogue.
Two general web sites provide detailed information about Jewish heritage, history and heritages sites in Groningen town and more than 20 other towns in Groningen province, in the north of the country: Appingedam, Bellingwolde, Bourtange, Delfzijl, Grijpskerk, Groningen Iepenlaan, Groningen Moesstraat, Hoogezand, Leek, Leens, Loppersum, Nieuweschans, Oude Pekela, Stadskanaal, Stedum, Ter Apel, Uithuizen, Veendam, Vlagtwedde, Warffum, Winschoten, Winsum, Zuidbroek
NOTE: This was an extensive web site with information on Jewish heritage, heritage sites and history in more than 20 towns in Groningen town and Groningen province. The original web site has been replaced with a web site about the history of Groningen — but the Jewish material is expected to be included in that when the site is complete.
Tel: +31 (0) 50 312 31 51
The large twin-towered Synagogue was inaugurated in 1906, replacing an earlier synagogue that had been built in 1756. In 1952, the building was sold and became a dry-cleaning plant. Later it became a church and assembly hall of the Apostolic Fellowship. A Foundation established in 1973 oversaw the restoration of the building, which has functioned as a synagogue again since 1981, as well as a venue for events. It is open to the public for visits and guided tours.
Two long-forgotten 19th century mikvehs were discovered in the Jewish community building in early 2014.
Detailed information about Jewish history in the town.
See a brief history of the synagogues in The Hague.
The former Great Ashkenazic synagogue, at Wagenstraat 103, was designed in neoclassical style by the architect Arend Roodenburg and dedicated in 1844. It suffered fire damage by survived World War II, used by the Nazis as a furniture warehouse. It was used for worship after the war, but was closed in 1975 and sold to the municipality because of the dwindling congregation. It subsequently was acquired by the Turkish Islamic Association and converted into a mosque. It is listed as a national monument,as a “Former synagogue of cultural and historical importance because of the associated memory of the Dutch-Israelite Congregation. It’s architectural history and typological valuable as a rare and intact preserved example of a synagogue in neo-classical style.”
Founded in 1694 for both the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities, and in use until 1906, the cemetery has around 2800 grave markers with inscriptions in Hebrew, Yiddish, Portuguese, and Spanish. As many as 10,000 are believed to be buried there, most of them without gravestones. The cemetery was restored and documentary in the 1980s by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Jewish Cemetery, whose web site includes a PDF of people buried in the cemetery, as well as other information.
Wassenaar Jewish Cemetery (Ashkenazic)
Opened in 1906 and currently in use.
2514BZ Den Haag
Foundation established in 2013 to preserve and promote Jewish heritage in The Hague and environs.
Founded in 1748, the cemetery underwent full restoration in 2013-2016. The work included removal of trees and other vegetation that threatened walls and other structures, installing a new gate and repairing the wall, and repairing or reerecting more than 6,000 gravestones.
The work was supervised by the Foundation for the Conservation of the Jewish Cemetery, which was established by volunteers and which raised some €275,000 for the project.
SLIEDRECHT (South Holland – Zuid-Holland Province)
3361 AD Sliedrecht
Tel: +31 (0) 6 109 78 191
Dating from 1845, the synagogue, a small, cottage-like building with a peaked roof and arched windows, was built on a dike. Regular services were held until 1920. Seriously damaged during World War II, it was used after the war as the premises of a sack manufacturer, a greengrocer and a carpenter. A foundation was established in 1994 to prevent its demolition as part of a dike reinforcement project. The Foundation bought the building in 1997, dismantled it into 11 components and re-assembled it at a new site 80 meters away from the original position, with interior furnishings from a former synagogue at Zaltbommel. It was inaugurated in 2003 and now serves the small local Jewish community as well as for exhibitions and weddings. It is open to the public every second weekend of the month.
Mikveh dating from the first half of the 13th century, discovered in 2004, is the oldest physical trace of Jewish presence in the Netherlands. It was excavated and reassembled as a permanent exhibit in the Limburgs Museum.
The Middelburg synagogue, a red brick building with arched windows originally built in 1705, is the oldest synagogue in the Netherlands outside of Amsterdam. During World War II the German occupiers used it as a warehouse for confiscated radio equipment. It was badly damaged by a British shell during the liberation and fell into ruin after the war. A foundation was set up for its reconstruction, and the building was restored in 1994. It is currently used again as a synagogue.
The Portuguese-Jewish Cemetery, located on Jodengang (Jews’ Walk) in Middelburg, was established In 1655 and used until 1721. Declared a national monument, it was restored in 1997-1998.
The Cemetery on Walensingel was established in 1705 and is still in use.