Jewish Walking Tour Amsterdam
The Jewish Walking Tour of Amsterdam
is operated by tourguide historian
as part of her
Jewish Amsterdam Tour.
Amsterdam once had a vivid Jewish quarter, centered around the splendid Portuguese Synagogue and a complex of four Ashkenazi synagogues, now the city’s Jewish Museum. Since Jewish settlement in Amsterdam in the 17th century, until the massacre of nearly 80% of the country’s Jewish population in WWII, this part of town was teeming with Jewish life and activity.
By highlighting important landmarks in that area, Naomi brings 400 years of the city’s Jewish history back to life.
Portuguese Synagogue Amsterdam.
Opened in 1675 by a community of Conversos, or Marranos, Jews forcibly baptized by the Portuguese Inquisition to be Catholics, who returned to an overt Jewish identity in 17th century Amsterdam.
Jewish Museum Amsterdam.
Former complex of four Ashkenazy synagogues.
Jewish Girls’ Orphanage
Among the area’s many Jewish institutions was a Jewish girls’ orphanage, in a side street of the Portuguese Synagogue.
Former Jewish girls’ orphanage in Amsterdam
Hebrew inscription on facade of Jewish girls orphanage Amsterdam.
The Hebrew inscription on the monument’s facade is:
מגדלי יתומות מעשים טבים
To raise orphan girls [is counted among] good deeds.
Jewish orphan girls were taken care of in this place between 1861 and 1943. During the Holocaust, all were shipped off to the Nazi extermination camps and none of them survived the Holocaust. In 2003 this beautiful facade with its Hebrew inscription was restored.
On the other side of the Portuguese Synagogue, also comprised in the city’s former Jewish district, are the eastern stretches of Amsterdam’s canals. These were nicknamed by the Christian locals the ‘Jewish canals’, referring to their many Jewish inhabitants and institutions.
In the past, the eastern stretches of Amsterdam’s canals
were nicknamed by the Christian locals the ‘Jewish canals’,
referring to their many Jewish inhabitants and institutions.
Jewish senior care facility
A Jewish senior care facility, currently a student fraternity, aligned the Nieuwe Herengracht, the New Gentlemen’s canal, nicknamed the Joden Herengracht, the Jewish Gentlemen’s canal. When the facility opened its doors in this location in the late 18th century, Jewish men from the age of 60 were eligible for accommodation. In 1943, after the deportation of all the inhabitants, the Nazi’s chopped away the facade’s encarved Hebrew lettering, so as to erase any trace of Jewish entitlement. The text was reconstructed in 1995 and now justly adorns the entrance to the venue:
Support for the elderly.
Street sign of the Nieuwe Herengracht, New Gentlemen’s canal, in the old days nicknamed Joden Herengracht ‘Jewish Gentlemen’s canal.
Former Jewish senior care facility at Nieuwe Herengracht Amsterdam.
Restored Hebrew lettering atop entrance
to former Amsterdam Jewish senior care facility.
Sukka, tabernacle, with openable roof, used for Sukkot,
the Jewish Holiday of Tabernacles,
inside the former Jewish senior care facility.
“The purpose of the Amsterdam Jewish Walking Tour is to show people that the city’s Jewish heritage isn’t merely confined within the boundaries of the Amsterdam Jewish Cultural Quarter, i.e. the Portuguese Synagogue, the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorials. Its scope reaches way beyond those venues. I myself, after more than a decade of research, keep on revealing gems of Jewish heritage, often hidden behind private facades, awaiting their deserved attention and appreciation”,
says Naomi Koopmans.