Visit Holland - The Netherlands

Jewish Amsterdam

Amsterdam has historically been the center of the Dutch Jewish community, and has had a continuing Jewish community for the last 370 years.

Amsterdam is also known under the name "Mokum", given to the city by its Jewish inhabitants ("Mokum" is Yiddish for "town", derived from the Hebrew "makom", which literally means "place").

Marranos and Sephardic Jews
Permanent Jewish life in Amsterdam began with the arrival of pockets of Marranos and Sephardic Jews at the end of the 15th, and beginning of the 16th century. Although many Sephardim (so-called Spanish Jews) had been expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492 after the fall of muslim Granada.

From 1497, others remained in the Iberian peninsula, practising Judaism in secret. The newly independent Dutch provinces provided an ideal opportunity for these crypto-Jews to re-establish themselves and practise their religion openly, and they migrated, most notably to Amsterdam. Collectively, they brought trading influence to the city as they established in Amsterdam.

In 1593 these Marranos arrived in Amsterdam after having been refused admission to Middelburg and Haarlem. These Jews were important merchants and persons of great ability. They labored assiduously in the cause of the people and contributed materially to the prosperity of the country. They became strenuous supporters of the House of Orange and were in return protected by the stadholder. At this time the commerce of Holland was increasing; a period of development had arrived, particularly for Amsterdam, to which Jews had carried their goods and from which they maintained their relations with foreign lands. Quite new for the Netherlands, they also held connections with the Levant and Morocco.

The formal independence from Spain of the Republic of the Seven United Provinces (1581), theoretically opened the door to public practice of Judaism. Yet only in 1603 did a gathering take place that was licensed by the city. Three congregations formed in the 1610s which merged to form a united Sephardic congregation in 1639.

The Tuschinski Theater, founded by Polish-Jewish-Dutch businessman Abraham Icek TuschinskiThe first Ashkenazim who arrived in Amsterdam were refugees from the Chmielnicki Uprising in Poland and the Thirty Years War. Their numbers soon swelled, eventually outnumbering the Sephardic Jews at the end of the 17th century; by 1674, some 5,000 Ashkenazi Jews were living in Amsterdam, while 2,500 Sephardic Jews called Amsterdam their home. Many of the new Ashkenazi immigrants were poor, contrary to their relatively wealthy Sephardic co-religionists. They were only allowed in Amsterdam because of the financial aid promised to them and other guarantees given to the Amsterdam city council by the Sephardic community, despite the religious and cultural differences between the Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim and the Portuguese-speaking Sephardim.

Only in 1671 did the large Ashkenazi community inaugurate their own synagogue, the Great Synagogue, which stood opposite to the Sephardic Esnoga Synagogue. Soon after, several other synagogues were built, among them the Obbene Shul (1685-1686), the Dritt Shul (1700) and the Neie Shul (1752, also known as the New Synagogue). For a long time, the Ashkenazi community was strongly focused on Central and Eastern Europe, the region where most of the Dutch Ashkenazi originated from. Rabbis, cantors and teachers hailed from Poland and Germany. Up until the 19th century, most of the Ashkenazi Jews spoke Yiddish, with some Dutch influences. Meanwhile, the community grew and flourished. At the end of the 18th century, the 20,000-strong Ashkenazi community was one of the largest in Western and Central Europe.

  Ashkenazi Synagogue complex Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4

  Portuguese Synagogue Mr. L.E. Visserplein 3

  Dockworker Jonas Daniel Meijerplein

  Bet Hamidrash Ets Haim Rapenburgerstraat 109

  Jewish Girls’ Orphanage Rapenburgerstraat 173

  Netherlands Israelite Seminary Rapenburgerstraat 175-179

  De Castro’s pharmacy Muiderstraat 14

  The Fortress, building of the Diamond Union Henri Polaklaan 9

  Auschwitz memorial  Wertheimplantsoen

  Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theatre) Plantage Middenlaan 24

  Plaque commemorating De Crèche (Nursery) Plantage Middenlaan 31-33

  Plaque commemorating the raid on the Registry Office  Plantage Kerklaan 36

  The Plancius Building Plantage Kerklaan 61

  Boas – diamond factory  Nieuwe Uilenburgerstr. 173-175

  Uilenburg synagogue Nieuwe Uilenburgerstr. 91

  The Diamond Exchange Weesperplein 4

  The Jewish Home, Joodse Invalide Nieuwe Achtergracht 100

  Jewish High School and Lyceum Voormalige Stadstimmertuin 1 en 2

  Monument to Jewish Resistance Amstel 1

  Monument for the Jewish Boys’ Orphanage Amstel 1

  The market on Waterlooplein Waterlooplein

  The De Pinto House Sint Antoniesbreestraat 69

  Monument to Jacob Israël de Haan Jodenbreestraat

  Lekstraat Synagogue Lekstraat 63

  Jacob Obrechtplein Synagogue Jacob Obrechtplein / Heinzestraat 3

  Portuguese Cemetery Beth Haim Kerkstraat 10, Ouderkerk/Amstel

  Zeeburg Cemetery Flevopark, Amsterdam

  Muiderberg Cemetery Googweg 6, Muiderberg

  Diemen cemetery Oud Diemerlaan 146, Diemen

  Shabbat boundary marker at Kalfjeslaan/Amstel River Amstel, corner Kalfjeslaan

  Portuguese-Israelite Hospital Henri Polaklaan 6-10

  Statue of Samuel Sarphati - Sarphati Park Sarphatipark

  Talmud Torah School Tweede Boerhaavestraat 7

  Gerard Dou Synagogue Gerard Doustraat 238

  Russian Shul Nieuwe Kerkstraat 149

  Tuschinski Theatre Reguliersbreestraat 26-28

  Asscher Diamond Factory Tolstraat 127

  The Artisans’ Friendly Society Nieuwe Achtergracht 140-144


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