The Jews of Deventer and its Surroundings
Jewish religion and its traditions survived Assyrian, Babylonian and other Eastern empires, even the Romans. The Diaspora, dispersion of the Jews, begins after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Thus the Jews came to Western Europe and also to the Low Lands.
During the fifth century Jews lived near the rivers Rhine, Moselle and Main. Of the period thereafter only scarce data are available about the Jews, mainly because of a shortage of source material. Emperor Charles the Great and his son Louis were kindly disposed towards the Jews also out of self-interest because of the latter’s' trade connections.
In 1290 the Jews were banned from England and from Germany, many Jews went Eastwards. Some went to the West, to Brabant, Gelderland and Luxemburg. They were banned from France in 1306 and some settled in the North.
During the middle ages the church determined attitudes towards the Jews throughout Europe. Because Jews were prevented from joining professional groups they mostly went into trade and "credit economics". Nevertheless, many Jews became highly respected because of the great value they attached to study and their knowledge of languages, their international contacts and their traditions in respect to hygiene. This also again stirred up hate and fear. Notorious periods were those of the 'black death" in the 14th century, during the Dreyfus affair in France at the end of the 19th century and of course during the Hitler period in the 20th century. It has increasingly been proved that anti-Semitism is strongly embedded within society.
The Jews of Overijssel – Deventer
Already quite early several Jewish communities developed in Overijssel, which disappeared again after the heaviest outbreak of the "Black Death" (1349-1352). This terrible bubonic plague epidemic threatened all of Europe and deluded many people into thinking that the Jews had poisoned the sources of water. The result was the massive murder of Jews by the 'ghesel of cruusbroeders' .
The names of persons and communities massacred were entered in the memorial books, the so-called Memorbucher. In Das Martyrologium des Nurnberger Memorbuches, Deventer was mentioned among others, as a place where martyrs had fallen.
In Deventer plague raged heavily and when on Sunday, September 28th, 1349 a group of flagellants from Holland, Utrecht and Gelderland, amongst them friends of the bishop, came into town, the fate of the Jewish community in Deventer was sealed.
The position of the Jews during that period is not unequivocal to all historians. Jac. Zwarts reports that the Deventer Jew Conradus de Judia lost a quarter of his parcel of agricultural land to the son of a priest who already had three quarters of his property. It did not make any difference to the ultimate fate of the Jews, as Conradus de Judia and his fellow townsmen were murdered.
About fifty confessions of debt (IOU's) (“schuldbekentenissen”) have been preserved in which Godschalk van Recklinghausen 'ende sinne gheselscap Juden' ('and his fellow Jews'), being Godschalk, his daughter Hanna and some others played a very important part in money lending. Many aristocrats had to make use of the Jewish moneylenders among others to enable them to afford their conquests. These moneylenders, therefore, received some protection. Undoubtedly the death of these moneylenders was not disagreeable to the many debtors. This tragic fact is obvious from what a citizen from Zwolle wrote: 'In the year one thousand three hundred and fifty minus one, at the end of August, the Jews of Zwolle were killed and immediately burnt - out of the love for God.'
After the horrifying massacres during the bubonic plague epidemic in 1349 we see in 1353 and in 1357 that there are again Jewish citizens in Deventer; Johannes dicto Joede en Henricus dictus Jode. They are only a few.
From the 'Cameraersrekeningen's taxes it appears that in 1362 one Jew had settled in Deventer followed by one more in each of the following years 1363 and 1364.In 1362 a Jew had rented a piece of land:-'a Jew with a courtyard next to the city barn'; this was also the case in 1372.
In 1436 Johan de Joode (“the Jew”) visited Deventer and as representative of the Count of Gelderland, he wanted to convince the people of Deventer to declare the gold and silver coins minted in Arnhem to be legal tender.
Even in the sixteenth century the number of Jews in Overijssel remained small. In 1545 several Jews asked the municipality of Deventer for permission ' to live in Deventer and to exercise their trades there'. This request was, however, not granted. Nevertheless, there was need of a moneylender, because a year later the city management gave such permission to a Lombard.
During the time of Charles V and Alva quite a lot of Jews moved to Germany. A number of Jews dispelled from Gelre, applied for settlement in Deventer. This request was rejected in 1585. The attitude towards Jews of Deventer as well as that of other towns in the bishopdom, was not benevolent. Even after the Reformation, Deventer remained less accessible to Jews. In 1654 the Sworn-in Municipality of Deventer turned out to be afraid of the Jewish religion. The Jews were not allowed to live in Deventer, but they could run their businesses there, although not without difficulties.
In 1650 the Sworn-in Municipality of Deventer requested the Aldermen and Committee to 'restrict Jews from trading along streets (except for lime and lemons). After all in 1656 the Municipality asks them: 'that all Jews without distinction be restricted from trading in the commercial part of the town. Thus, under the heading of oranges and lemons, all kinds of trades are being done, to great disadvantage of the inhabitants'. The Aldermen and Committee members granted this request. In February 1658 the votes of the Sworn-in Municipality were equally divided about the decision to uphold the prohibition that 'no Jews are allowed to trade in this town'. The Aldermen and Committee members, who had to decide(d) about this issue, now came to the conclusion that Jews were now permitted to sell 'oranges and lemons' 'toe gerijff ende ten dienste van een yegelge' (“for the benefit and service of everybody”). Afterwards no opposition was noted against this trade and thus one can conclude that the tradesmen selling their wares in Deventer, dealt solely in citrus fruit.During almost the entire 18th century the city management of Deventer did not allow Jews to settle there.
In 1771 it seems that they wanted to effect a change in this situation. The reason for this was the negative results of advertisements placed in newspapers, with the purpose to find licensees for the Loan Bank for a period of 12 years.
The Aldermen and Committee members were of the opinion that a pawnbroker was extremely necessary. The municipal management could not think of another way to reach this goal than to ' permit those of the Jewish nation to take part in the licensing of the loan-bank and to allow them the same freedom of habitation and privileges connected herewith (“verknogt te doen genieten”). The Municipal Board approved this proposal. However, the loan-bank did not get a Jewish licensee, perhaps because a Christian, who rented it for the following 12 years, had applied.
The French Period
The slogan Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood also had consequences for the Dutch society. The National Assembly in The Netherlands accepted on September 2nd, 1796 the Emancipation Decree in which Jews also received citizen's rights. This concerned all citizens of the Batavian Republic. It was considered a blessing for the Jews who wanted to settle in Deventer.
A sudden change in attitude towards the Jews was not really felt, though. Nevertheless, King Louis Napoleon made sincere attempts to implement equality in everyday life for the Jews. In 1808 he organized a committee consisting of nine members, the Supreme Consistory, which would have complete supervision of all Ashkenazi communities in the kingdom, with Mr. Jonas Daniel Meijer as chairman. The Upper Consistory assisted the King in establishing a corps of Jewish soldiers, took the initiative for a translation of the Bible in Dutch and diligently worked to abolish the differences still present between Jews and Christians. Louis Napoleon stipulated that the weekly markets held on Saturdays should be moved to other days, so that the Jews could keep their Sabbath. During a tour, which the king made in 1809, he received Jewish delegates and he also visited Deventer.
Before 1795 the Jewish communities were managed by parnassim (managers) by nature a powerful position. The Supreme Consistory took care that local abuses were improved and that the election of parnassim became centralized. The long lasting autonomy of the Jewish communities came to an end.
Zwolle, which already had had a prosperous Jewish life with a Rabbi, a synagogue and a cemetery before 1795, was granted the status of the consistorial church for Overijssel.
The young community of Deventer tried to reverse this decision, argumenting that it was the center of a region where about 1500 Jews lived and emphasizing the great tolerance that the Municipality of Deventer had shown with respect to the Jews since 1795.
However, the Supreme Consistory decided that the consistorial synagogue would be established in Zwolle because that town was the capital of the province, it had the highest number of Jews (355) and also because a Chief Rabbi had been living there for many years.
The initial period in Deventer
It is most likely that Jews established themselves in this city very soon after the arrival of the French. In June 1796 Jacob Mozes and his three sons requested the city council to allow them the right to live there as well as the right of citizenship.
The request of Jacob Mozes and his sons to be accepted as citizens was granted by the city council on July 5th 1796. This council granted the Jews the same rights that the town of Zwolle had granted to its Jewish inhabitants 175 years before. From that time onwards more Jews settled in Deventer so that their number increased over a short period of time. In 1809 their number amounted already to 173, composed of about 20 families with numerous children. The oldest minutes book of the Jewish community dates from the year five thousand five hundred fifty eight since the creation of the world (= 1797).
The heads of the families that made up this first group of Deventer Jews formulated a set of rules, which would serve -hopefully-the fast growing group of Jews in Deventer.
In 1798 the parnassim (or “Diaconen” as they were defined in the City’s records) of the Jewish community' in Deventer notified the City Council that 'they had bought a yard and house situated near the Brink at the corner of the Golstraat, with the intention to transform this into a synagogue and to hold there religious services'. The City Council agreed to their plan of transforming these premises into a church and to exempt them from paying “oortjesgeld” (a form of municipal taxes.
Jewish life developed fast. New members were admitted.
On April 10th 1798, the Jewish date 23 Nissan 5588-558 lefak Mr. Ansj Katz was appointed shamash. He received 7 guilders as salary until Succoth. A cashier was also appointed. All family heads were obliged to buy bread and milk from the cashier for which he received 2 pennies from each family for supplying milk and half a penny for challoth and bread.
In addition each family had to invite the cashier for a Shabbath meal, proceeding according to a certain sequence decided upon. The obligated purchases were controlled by the parnassim. If people were caught breaking this rule by buying nevertheless from other bakers, one could be fined the amount of 3 guilders.(!).
It was not obligatory for everyone to participate in the cost of the meal tickets issued by the community for passing strangers.
On 9 Shewat 5560 (February 4th, 1800) artifacts, which belonged to several members and which were used during ceremonial services, were recorded in the minute books.
Noting down these objects was deemed necessary in order to keep the peace among these members.
Joel, son of Mozes donated a Tora scroll belonging to him, to the synagogue. Jacob, son of Joel Segal also donated a Tora scroll, and so did Menachem, son of Jona. The society Gemilas Chasodiem donated a Tora scroll to the synagogue on condition that it should be for the congregation, God preserve her, a proper present. Written at the request of the parnasim and managers of the community, God preserve her, here in Deventer 9 Shewat 5560.
Further items of interest of this period:
In section 5 it is mentioned that the parnas has the authority to spend one guilder and not more without notifying his colleagues. In case the amount is higher they have to consult with each other.
Section 6: if someone is chosen to be a governor by a majority of votes but refuses to accept, he has to pay a fine of a chagar.
In 1798 the parnassim of the Jewish community in Deventer tried to attract Rabbi Mozes, son of Rabbi Josua (Jeshaya) from Poland.
The regulations and their supplements apparently had to have the approval of a higher Jewish council in Amsterdam, because in the minutes book there is the signature of Ephraim Lion Davids, notarized translator in Amsterdam, dated September 26th, 1800.
The first synagogue (1798) and the period till the end of the French rule
As described above, in 1798 the first group of Jews bought a yard with a house to be used as a synagogue. At first the size of this house was suitable for this small group, but already in 1799 steps were taken to obtain a bigger and permanent synagogue. It took years to build this synagogue, as in 1810 the Jewish community notified the mayor that this synagogue could hold 200 persons but that it had not yet been completed. The first real synagogue was situated next to a warehouse. Today it houses the Etty Hillesum Center.
The young community grew and prospered and in 1808 it possessed a synagogue, a bathhouse (mikve), a house and a courtyard with a small gardenhouse used as a cemetery. The expenses for the synagogue amounted to 1100 guilders, income was 935 guilders – the difference was borne by the well-to-do members.
In the beginning of the 19th century, there were many poor people as the result of the French rule. So soon after the age-long prohibition for Jews to settle in Deventer, it would certainly not have been easy for numerous poor Jews to find work and provide for their families. Poverty turned out to be so great that Parnas Joseph Joel van Raalte made a request to the mayors and aldermen to be allowed to hold a collection every six weeks or four times a year for his impoverished 'brethren in faith'. The Jewish community would then waive its part in the 'general relief for the poor'. This request was granted. One also tried to help the poor in various other ways. Thus, in 1825 Isak Mozes Heilbron and Isak Hartog van Aalbergen got assistance in establishing a bakery and with the sale of milk-, this for the benefit of the community. 'From time to time the Manhigim will regulate the price of the bread for Friday, called Galles and the bread for Pesach as well as that of milk, to which both partners will have to adhere'.
The managers were not spared problems of a personal nature. As many of the 20 voting members were related, it could happen that the management consisted of many members of one family.
This caused in 1809 dissatisfaction amongst some of the council members. They asked the Superior Consistory to carry out some changes in the regulations. This body then pointed out that it had already drawn up a new set of rules for several other communities. Apparently it was not possible to introduce any changes in the governing body in Deventer. On February 7th, 1809 the Superior Consistory received a summary of the members of the Board of Governors and the clerical personnel.
Lazarus Joel, chazan, Philip Aron Salomon was 'caretaker and slaughterer of animals, as well as supervisor of the bread and milk which are sold by the community'. A Rabbi could not be appointed because of the weak financial status. Mr. Hirts, rabbi in Zwolle, was called upon from time to time, against an amount of 14 guilders per year. In 1798 they had tried to attract rabbi Mozes, son of rabbi Joshua of Poland, but apparently they did not succeed.
The community also appealed to other rabbi’s in Zwolle, David Susan and Mozes Nash (Joel).
After the death of both, they turned to Rabbi Hertog Joshua Hertzveld of Zwolle become their teacher and spiritual guide.
Hertog Joshua Hertzveld (1781-1846) was appointed Chief Rabbi of the main synagogue in Zwolle. He was the first chief rabbi who preached in Dutch. He rendered, herewith, an important contribution to the emancipation of the Jews; because Jiddish had to be abolished, by decision, in schools and in synagogues. As with the Rabbinate, they had to make do with Jewish education: 'we do not have yet schools and teachers under the directors of the community – some members of the community can teach themselves and each other'. So, some capable members of the community looked after some Jewish education for the children.
The eventful French period did not pass by the young Jewish community without shocks. About 15 years after the establishment of the synagogue they succeeded in building their own community hall. Before that meetings had to be hold at the house of one of the members, but when that was not possible for some reason, the meetings would be held next to the synagogue, at the house of the caretaker. His was a small house so he and his family were obliged to leave the living room at these occasions. One year after the completion of the community hall, the French commander requisitioned it for his soldiers who made a ruin of the beautiful hall, which was restored a year later with great effort.
The register of names of the Israelite community in 1811
It has already been pointed out how favorable the ideas of the French Revolution were for the establishment and the acceptance of the Jews. Another achievement of the French period was the decree that everyone had to adopt a family name. The municipalities were responsible for the execution of this decree.
Many already had a family name, especially the families in the cities, the nobility and the merchants. In the countryside the need for a family name was not considered a necessity and thus one was known by one's father's name, for instance Abraham Salomons.
In Deventer there are 23 certificates of names adoption in 'the index on the register of names of parents and children of the Jewish community of the city of Deventer on September 12th, 1811'.
At the time of its establishment in 1797, the Jewish community did not yet possess a cemetery. On June 5th, 1805 the Jewish community bought a garden and small house outside the Brinkpoort. In this case literally and figuratively outside Brinkpoort because during that time Deventer was still surrounded by embankments, quays, canals, walls and gates. The first cemetery was situated at the corner of the erstwhile Goldenbelt Street and Lange Rij, near the Beestenmarkt. Members of the Jewish community had, according to the regulations, the right to a grave. In 1799 there already existed a Jewish society that dealt with funerals, care of the sick, etc., namely Gemielos Chasodiem. In the archives of the Jewish community the first registration of a funeral was only in 1833. It is obvious from the archives that Jews from the vicinity of Deventer also looked for and bought a final resting-place there. The City Council foresaw already for some years the abolition of Deventer as a fortified city (1874). Already in 1868 it became clear them that if they were allowed to break down the walls of the city, it would be able to expand the town, also in the direction of the Jewish cemetery. Therefore, the Jewish community would be obliged to start looking for a new parcel of land. The municipality of Deventer offered them at the end of 1868 a piece of property next to the General Cemetery, established in 1831, which was bought in 1869.
In 1881 the Jewish community board notified Mayor van Marle that the old cemetery would be declared closed as from September 1870. The new Jewish cemetery, still in existence to this day, was put into use in November 1870. In November 1960 the city council accepted the proposition of the Mayor and Aldermen to start proceedings for buying the old cemetery from the Dutch Israelite congregation. After about a century and a half the old cemetery, which was surrounded by high walls, had to make room for a path and a bicycle shed for the benefit of the students of the Lower Technical School of that time. According to Jewish law, a cemetery may only seldom be vacated because Jews acquire the land as an everlasting property. The remains and tombstones were transferred to a mass grave in the new cemetery, by special consent of Chief Rabbi Berlinger.
A split in the community and establishment of a new Jewish congregation: 1869
The growing Jewish community had to cope with quite a few problems during the middle of the nineteenth century, both in the private sphere as well as among the council members. Vexation about the validity of votes, about the eligibility of members, about the competence of the council members and about careless administration already became public domain in 1867. In 1868 the council meetings were held in public, but this measure did not help to solve the problems within the Jewish community. Quarrels characterized the atmosphere of the year 1868 so much that council members were even maltreated. This was one of the reasons that about 30 members separated and established a new congregation: The New Israelite Community. The old community had to see to it, that functions, like butchers, where quickly filled in. The Chief Rabbi of Zwolle was informed of the fact that the New Israeli Community had taken into service butchers who did not have the required permits. The old Israelite community nominated Mr. L. van Spiegel as: 'messenger, meat cutter and supervisor of the bath'.
Not much is known about the new Israelite Community.
Their synagogue was situated at the corner of Zwolsche Street (later called Gibson Street) and Graaf van Buren Street. That this situation was intolerable proved the intervention of Chief Rabbi Tal, who in October 1882 made efforts to bring both communities together. Mr. Tal indeed succeeded to unite both parties as from January 1st, 1883. Until that time the separated congregation would cooperate in the church council with the 'old' Israelite community from within. According to the request of the' separated' congregation, the church council would be increased to seven members. Assets and liabilities of both communities were united.
From that period on, problems were mutually solved. The separation was a dark page in the short history of the young Jewish community in Deventer.
The second synagogue
Because of the increasing number of members, the synagogue in Rogge Street very soon turned out to be too small. The planning of refurbishment or building a new synagogue was what exercised the minds most.
Concrete plans were made in 1883 either for a new building or for the extension of the existing synagogue. The limited financial means, however, hampered transforming the possibilities into reality.
In 1888 the situation again became precarious. Planning a new synagogue became a necessity. Three sites were considered: one located near the Baptist-Remonstrant community at Penninckshoek, the part of the demolished fortress of the erstwhile bastion "Graaf van Buren", and a site in the Gol Street near the existing synagogue. After much deliberation the location near the "Graaf van Buren" bastion was chosen and it was bought by the Jewish community in July 1889 for 4000 guilders. Very soon, however, it was resold to the Municipality for the same price. A premise in the Gol Street, which had been used as a wine warehouse, could be bought. Pulling it down would enable them to build a new synagogue on the site. Apart from this, two small houses were bought on the Voorst. All this was going to cost 4000 guilders. One way the necessary money was collected was by a lottery, for which among others the painter Joseph Israels and the sculptor Teixeira de Mattos, each offered one of their works.
The laying of the corner stone took place with some ceremony. Because the Jewish community needed quite a lot of money, it was decided to rent out the seats for a period of two years. The consecration was held with decorum on August 5th, 1893. It took place in the presence of Chief Rabbi Wagenaar - many civil and military authorities of the city as well as several invitees.
On August 5th, 1917 the 25th anniversary of the synagogue was celebrated with many festivities. A beautiful veil for the Holy Ark was offered, as well as two oak standards for the Tora Scrolls on the Almemor during the reading of the Tora. The House of God was turned into a flower garden. Because of the recently installed electricity the synagogue was bathed in a sea of light. On Friday evening, Shabbat morning and Shabbat afternoon special anniversary services were held.
Around 1931 refurbishing was necessary, which lasted five months. The re-opening took place in April 1932.
All through the centuries analphabetism among Jews was a great exception. One certainly did not always like studying Hebrew and reading it, as it required much time and children were deprived of any spare time. One of the aims of Jewish tuition was to prepare the boys for Barmitsvah. If, as was often the case, in smaller communities there was no special Jewish day school, the pupils had to attend Jewish school after the common public school.
During 1862 several changes took place within the Jewish community. The official name from then on would be: Dutch Israelite Community. Next to the synagogue management a synagogue council was also established. In Deventer the positions of chazzan and teacher of religion were combined.
The management occupied itself with finding a suitable location. This needed to be financed. Thus they tried to receive subsidies to supplement the benevolent contributions of Jewish fellow citizens for a religious poor-school and housing for the teachers.
IN 1864 a carpenter altered the communal classrooms into a poor-school and teachers' housing for the amount of 7000 guilders, for the benefit of the Jewish fellow citizens. On Sunday, December 11th, 1864 the ceremonial inauguration of the new school building took place. Present at this ceremony were the school committee, the synagogue council, Chief Rabbi Dr. Frankel and several invitees. In his speech, the Chief Rabbi stipulated specifically that the school building should not only be used for teaching religion, but also for other purposes and even for 'secular events'.
The community grew and the initially suitable premises fell into disrepair to such an extent, that new premises had to be found. For this the old synagogue in the Rogge Street was chosen, which was refurbished for an amount of 1118 guilders, according to a draft by the municipal architect. On June 13th, 1897, almost a century after the synagogue was inaugurated, this building was again inaugurated as a school for religious teaching. The recorder of the minutes of the Jewish community ended his report with the following words: 'May the improved premises for religious teaching serve to the advancement of sincere piety in our community'.
The father of Etty Hillesum, former rector of the gymnasium in Deventer, was member of the school board of the Jewish school from 1929 to 1935.
As from September 1st, 1941 Jewish children were not allowed anymore to attend regular schools, but only specially established Jewish schools where the same subjects as in the regular schools were taught. After the Second World War when the synagogue was moved to the Lange Bisschop Street, an upper room was made suitable to serve as a teaching room.
Regulations of the Jewish community in Deventer
Like many other organizations, the Jewish community had its own rules, which regulated the affairs concerning the management, burials, marriages and clerical officials. From the beginning of the establishment of the Jewish community in Deventer, amendments were made from time to time, like for instance in March 1862, December 1908 and November 1930.
Merchants, kosher butchers and ritual slaughterers
Obviously, it was important for every Jewish community, also for Deventer, to have their own butcher who could supply kosher meat.
The bakers and butchers were the ones who had to implement the religious laws for kosher food.
The ritual slaughterers had to learn a lot of anatomy in order to pass their exams. The situation for the butchers was the most difficult. The ritual slaughterers had to supply all the butchers, which sometimes caused waiting periods. In the 19th century there often were arguments about competence / qualifications and the doings of the slaughterers who supplied several butchers.
The oldest Jewish society in Deventer was Gemielous Chasodiem, already mentioned in the Yiddish text of the oldest register in 1799, when the newly established kehila registered its properties. The Gemielous Chasodiem society dealt with good deeds like taking care of the sick and offering help with funerals. Hardly any reports or registers are known either of this old society or of most of the other societies and associations and we therefore have to limit ourselves with a brief account and explanation of the various societies:
- The men and women department of the Chewre Gemiloes Chasodiem. A continuation of the society established in 1799, which was re-established in 1868. The purpose was to assist in covering the cost of mourning and funeral expenses of the needy.
- Management of the poor. The administration thereof was kept separate from that of the community.
- Another fund for the poor was the Calcar fund (a present from the widow Calcar, who was not Jewish).
- Hadrash Koudesh. This society dealt with the embellishment of the synagogue.
- Mekor Chajim was engaged in the study of the Tora.
- Tiferes Nosjim, a society for women who among others organized and held lectures.
- The Israelite society for the support of needy expectant mothers Barid Abraham, established in 1887.
- The Society of Collectors – to regulate the collected monetary gifts.
- The Deventer branch of the Dutch Zionist Federation.
- Ets Chaim, the youth movement.
- Tikwas Jisroel, established in 1921, was a society for youth 12-18 years old, with the aim to keep them together after Jewish School hours among others by courses on Jewish scientific subjects.
The Jewish Territorial Organisation (ITO) aimed at acquiring territories on a basis of autonomy for Jews who could not or would not stay in countries where they were living.
After the Second World War there still existed the youth movement of Bne Akiwa and a Jewish Theatre Society in Deventer.
Several Jewish families
Before the Second World War the community of Deventer could not be thought of without families Gelder, Noach, Van Spiegel, Gosschalk, Cohen, Adelaar, Samuel, etc., who formed an integral part of this community. They included rich as well as poor families, factory managers and also tradesmen and shop keepers. They only became aware of their Jewishness in the negative sense during the measures taken by the German occupiers. Until that time they were a part of the population, the only difference being their religion. Their shops were open on Sundays so that one could buy bread at the bakery shops of De Leeuw and Hartz. Everyone knew the Jewish butchers like Alex de Leeuw, Mauritz van Creveld, Josef Frankfort, Meyer van Spiegel, as well as the firms of Oppenheim, Gosschalk and Van Engel.
From the beginning of the establishment of the Jewish community many Jews lived north of the Nieuwe Markt and Stromarkt, the Noordenberg Quarter. In 1849 one third of the Jews lived in the neighborhood of the Synagogue in the Berg Quarter.
There were also the second-hand shops of David Polak and Leo Lindeman. Other shops were owned by Moos Noach, Japie Polak and Daniel Berg. Levie Noach dealt in rags, but at the same time one could pawn things with him, so he had a pawnshop. Jacob Berg dealt in pickles and ice, but also in draperies. The following anecdote is known about Eduard Berg who dealt in second-hand furniture and antiques: Excitedly he went into the street because someone had deposited 'a big business' from a grown-up into his shop window. While dramatically waving his arms, he shouted 'dooon't touch, dooon't touch, the police first has to come'.
The history of the Deventer family Noach starts with Salomon Noach who came to Deventer with his wife Antje/Etje Mogendorff and eleven children from Goor. He worked as a hairdresser and barber. In 1865 he returned to Goor, but returned to Deventer for good in 1866, where he established himself as a second-hand dealer. His son Mozes became owner of the “Sajetbaal”, a business in textile goods and a varied assortment of accessories and his son Amsel Salomon Noach dealt in second-hand clothing and hides. Later on his sons Salomon, Izaak and Hartog managed it as a wholesale business. The sons of the latter would become famous physicians in Amsterdam. The family consisted of a rich branch and a poor branch, which was also called the scholarly branch. Another branche could was the one of Michel Noach who also ran a second-hand business. He and his wife Betje Noach-Luteraan and nine children could make ends meet with difficulty. There was strong competition amongst the small Jewish dealers, which was often fought out in newspaper advertisements.
Out of the nine children of Michel Noach eight became teachers and the ninth had an administrative career. Two children, Bernard Machiel Noach and Salomon Machiel Noach were at the time, after strict selection, admitted to the State Teacher Training College in Deventer (both studied Dutch language and literature and the latter was a famous expert on the oeuvre of Van Eeden, a famous comtemporary Dutch writer). In Leiden a street has been named after Bernard: The Noach Street in the Coebel quarter where a school, which he headed, is situated.
Then there was the well-known business of "Goedkope (Cheap) Sam, the man from Deventer". Sam (Samuel Abraham) Noach supplied linen to monasteries and hospitals. There were also the businesses of the butcher Emanuel Frankfort and his son Joseph, the dealer in old metal Berg, the men's and children's clothes shop of David Muller and the dealer in rags, Bos. The ladies Klunder who had a well-known transport trade, very often carried old clothes for him to Het Apeldoornse Bos' institution.
Furthermore, there was the well-known baker Sander Benninga, for whom one of Bos' sons transported bread in a dogcart.
Simon Hollander was a well-known Jewish personality. Because of the amputation of one of his arms he was called 'the Pompe'.
(the “pump”- comparing his appearance with the one-handled waterpumps in use at the time).
One of his brothers Jacob Hollander was a well-known and well-spoken quack who often attended Deventer market places and pulled peoples' teeth. His other brother was Marcus.
Simon Hollander and his wife Fraukje Hoogstraal had eight children: Carel, Hartog, (Han, who later was a well-known radio reporter), Fre, Daan, Geertruida, Bruintje, Liene and Roos.
In the Dutch art circles Philip van Praag became well-known as a decorative artist. In 1913 he married Marianne Flora Groenstad who was a teacher. This marriage was much against his parents' wishes because there had been no Jewish wedding ceremony. The couple and their son Bert perished in Auschwitz. Their son Philip survived the war and became a professor in demography.
Two well-known Jewish manufacturers in Deventer were Philip van Son, owner of an ink factory and Mauritz Prins who owned a carpet factory, which was later moved to Dinxperlo.
There were also families Polak, Spanier, Fortuin, de Wied, Slot-Kleverkamp, Mijerson, Zilversmit and many more.
The Cohen family and the Deventer Society
Members of the Cohen family of which Ru and Jacques ran a furniture business, became world-renowned. Out of the marriage of Herman Cohen and Rebecca van Essen the following children were born: David, Chi, Joseph, Ru, Jacques and Liene.
Prof. Dr. David Cohen became professor of Ancient History and Roman Antiquity at the University of Amsterdam. When only twenty he established 'the Society for Emigrants” with the purpose to extend some help to Jewish emigrants. He took part in various Jewish organizations, among others the Jewish Emigration Committee and the Dutch Zionist Federation. In 1941 he and diamond dealer Asscher were named chairmen of the Jewish Council (“Joodse Raad”).
Their acceptance of this dubious nomination and the unavoidable consequences very much blackened their historical memory.
Joseph Cohen went to high school in Deventer and afterwards moved to Groningen were he became manager of the Public Reading Room. He became known as a man of letters and his book 'de Nederlandse Sagen' – Dutch Legends – became a standard work. His marriage to a non-Jewish woman caused a breach with his family.
Ru and Chie Cohen played a central role in the training of Jewish boys in the Netherlands to become agrarians, something quite uncommon in Jewish circles.
This “Deventer Society” played an important role in the chaloetz
(“Palestine Pioneers”) organization in the Netherlands.
When Theodor Herzl published Der Judenstaat in 1896 only few Jews liked the idea of Zionism. Most of the Dutch Chief Rabbis first opposed Zionism. One of the most famous advocates became Mr. Abel Herzberg, who in 1933 said in one of his speeches: 'Do you know what it means when a people has no nation/fatherland?' Albert van Raalte (descendant of Van Raaltes of Deventer) also was a well-known chairman of the Dutch Zionist Federation from 1926-1928. The group of Zionists nevertheless started to get more adherents. Moving to Palestine was made difficult by two factors. First, because of the necessity of a Certificate: as Dutch Jews were not being persecuted, not very many received one. The second impediment was a financial one.
The soul of the growing Zionist organization in Deventer was Ru Cohen together with his wife Eva Cohen-Koningsberger. Youth hostel 'De Kleine Haar" in Gorssel was established specifically for the instruction of young Palestine pioneers. Herman Gelder, Heinrich Spanier, Ru Cohen and Deventer teacher IJssenagger managed this camp. In all studies about the history and establishment of the State of Israel, the Deventer society headed by Ru Cohen is always mentioned with honor.
Finally, the book 'Jood in Palestina' – Jew in Palestine –(Recollections 1939-1948) by Herman Cohen, son of Prof. Dr. David Cohen, which appeared in 1955 is of special importance. His recollections about Deventer form a moving homage to the members of his family, which who were so cruelly murdered.
Etty Hillesum (1914-1943)
The first print of De Joodse Gemeente - The Jewish community (1979)- the book on which this article is based, mentions here only shortly: Etty Hillesum, until then only known for the small publication Twee brieven uit Westerbork – Two letters from Westerbork. Two years later her anonymity would come to an end through the publication Het verstoorde leven – The disrupted life - , a selection from her diaries, which made her sky-high famous. After an additional two editions from this rich source, there followed a joint scientific edition: Etty, de nagelaten geschriften van Etty Hillesum – Etty, the texts/writings left for posterity by Etty Hillesum. For many people the work of Etty Hillesum has a more universal value. This work is often considered a literary and philosophical masterpiece. She has been compared to and sometimes even put on the same level as great minds like Kierkegaard and Seneca, although there has also been some criticism.
Etty Hillesum was born in 1914 in Middelburg. Her father, Levie (Louis) Hillesum, was a scholar in classics, her mother of Russian birth, gave lessons in the Russian language. The family arrived in Deventer in 1924, where the father taught the classic languages and became deputy head master of the Municipal Gymnasium. In 1928 he became head master until November 1940, when the German occupiers made him leave. Etty attended Gymnasium and afterwards studied law in Amsterdam. Her brother Michael (Mischa) was a brilliant musician and her brother Jacques (Jaap) became a physician.
As from July 15th, 1942 she worked for the Jewish Council (De Joodse Raad) in Amsterdam, afterwards she was transferred to Westerbork. In September 1943 her parents, her brother Mischa and she herself were transported.
The Jews in the communities in the vicinity of Deventer
About Jews in Bathmen information is scarce. Jacob Gosschalk is mentioned in 1813. In 1813 there already are 14 Jewish inhabitants. In 1913 Bathmen has 15 Jews, 2 of which are of Portuguese-Israelite descend. In 1914 there are 11: the Polak families. The brothers David and Jacob Polak had a furniture and drapery shop. David was married to W. Frankenhuis, Jacob to B. Bierman. Bram Polak ran together with his sisters Line and Jo the "De Ster" coffee-shop. Lenie chose a teaching career. The Jews from Bathmen perished in Sobibor where they arrived via Vught and Westerbork. The only survivor is Leny Adelaar Polak.
The first Jew in Raalte was Salomon Jacob van Raalte, who was mentioned in 1722. Joseph and Jacob van Raalte were the first parnassim of the Jewish community in Deventer. They adopted the van Raalte family name in 1811. In 1838 Raalte became an independent Jewish community. It had 30 Jewish members in 1847. In 1830 a cemetery was put into use and in 1889 a synagogue was consecrated. In 1913 the numbers of Jews living there was 56. The most well known Jewish families were: De Lange, Zwarts, Luteraan. Most of them dealt in cattle, poultry and draperies. Most Jews perished during the Second World War, two went into hiding and survived, one returned from the camps.
Jews already lived in Holten at the beginning of the 19th century: families Berg and Pagrach. Before the Second World War this community was clerically speaking an offspring of the community of Rijssen. In 1913 this combined Jewish community had 169 members in 1913, 123 of which lived in Rijssen.
In Hellendoorn lived 23 Jews who together with the Jews of Holten formed, just before the war, a Jewish community consisting of 50 persons, many of whom dealt in cattle and meat processing. Exceptions were Levie Cohen who, together with his daughter Mina ran a drapery store, taxidermist Lion Pagrach and Meier Smeer who had a bicycle shop. Before 1921 the Jews of Holten were dependant on the house synagogue at the home of the Pagrach family since the distance from Holten to Rijssen was too big for regular visits to the synagogue. This problem was solved in 1921 with the building of a local synagogue. At this period Jewish life started to blossom. In 1939 Engeltje Smeer from Holten got married to Ies de Leeuw from Deventer. Very soon after their wedding they departed to the United States. Several Jewish families from Holten perished during the war, among whom the Pagrach family. Others, however, survived, like Louis Gazan and the Kater family. In 1948 the Jewish community of Holten as a separate entity was discontinued; Rijssen was attached to Almelo and Holten to Deventer.
In 1809 the Jewish community in Deventer made a census of the number of members. Four families lived outside Deventer. The David and Abraham families lived in Wijhe. In 1811 two families were registered at the municipality in Wijhe in order to change their names: Mozes David van Weihen with 3 sons and 3 daughters and Heiman Godschallik with one son and 4 daughters. Previously the spelling of names changed from time to time, for instance Gottschalk, Godschalk, Godschallik, Gosschalk. Another well-known family in Wijhe was the Aussen family with two daughters. This whole family perished during the war.
In 1812 two men received permission from the mayor of Twello to adopt the name van Spiegel. Both were butchers and they soon had a steady clientele. One of them, Valk Lucas van Spiegel married Hendrina Asser Themans from Oldenzaal, whereas Salomon Lucas married Hendrina Zendijk of Olst. The latter couple became the ancestors of the Van Spiegel's from Twello and Deventer. Later they were connected to the Vredenburg and Samuel families. Many of them were butchers.
In Olst also lived non-resident members of the Jewish community of Deventer. The Zendijk family was well known and owned an important Dutch meat factory.
The first synagogue in Lochem dates from 1785 and adjoining it was a cemetery, which was used until 1848. The Jewish community in Lochem grew during the nineteenth century. In 1813 there were 13 Jewish heads of family with 36 children. Amongst them was the Fortuin family. In 1865 a new, larger synagogue with schoolroom was inaugurated. The following societies were active in the Jewish community of Lochem: Talmoed Tora oe Gmiloth Chasidim for studies and funerals, Bigdee Kodesh for the maintenance of the synagogue and the women's society Chevrat Nasjiem. There also existed a Jewish youth organization between 1890 and 1913. During the war 79 members of the Jewish community in Lochem perished, 14.survived.
After the liberation
After the liberation the first meeting and synagogue service was held on June 20th, 1945. Only only a hand full of survivors attended it. The only synagogue council member present from before the war was Mr. Sal Samuel. In his opening speech he expressed his confidence that the previous chairman, Mr. Herman Gelder, would soon be able to take over the chairmanship. The safe return from Theresienstadt of Mr. H. Gelder, his wife R. Gelder- van Son and their son Philip Gelder would mean that work of the synagogue council could soon take shape.
The very first management after the war consisted of Messrs. M. Zendijk, S. Wijler, B. Pinto, Sal.Samuel and H. Benninga. Mr. J. Jedwab was appointed official functionary.
Plans were made to restore the synagogue.The solemn inauguration took place on June 8th, 1947, in the presence of Chief Rabbi S. Rodriques Pereira.
The third synagogue
On September 19th, 1948 a service took place at the synagogue, at which a commemorative tablet was unveiled by Chief Rabbi S.R. Rodriques Pereira, memorizing the 400 community members who were taken away. Many problems, also financial, awaited the heavily decimated community. There was, for instance, a shortage of ritual butchers and meat had to be brought in from elsewhere. Several premises belonging to the Jewish community had to be sold. Eventually a premise situated in Lange Bisschop Street was converted into a synagogue. On June 29th, 1952 this third synagogue was consecrated. Numerous members and interested persons were invited. Mr. B. Pinto commemorated the members that were taken away in a comprehensive speech. Speeches were also held by the deputy mayor of the town, Th. Beerents, Mr. Noach, member of the executive committee of the Zionist Federation, Mr. D. Zendijk, treasurer, Notary Public Spier from Amsterdam and Mr. Krukziener, chairman of the Jewish Community in Zutphen. After the ceremonious entrance of the Tora Scrolls, Chief Rabbi A. Prins said several prayers and held a speech. The ceremony was closed with the singing of Hatikva.
From 1954 until today
An exhibition was held in 1954 titled "Jewish Rites and Symbols through the Ages". It included local as well as foreign entries.
The community stayed active. The journal 'Kol Hakehilla' kept up contact with persons who had left the town. In 1959 Chazzan L. van Essen departed and Mr. U. Moskovits was the new Chazzan. At that time Mr. M. Nager was the teacher in religious subjects. During several years 25 children from Deventer and surroundings received lessons in Jewish religion and there were also youth assemblies. Bne Akiva also held regular meetings. There was a branch of WIZO and Israel was always, though modestly, supported. Jewish life in Deventer received an irreparable blow with the departure to Israel of the Godschalk-Samuel families. In 1979 a Seder was still held for 40 persons. In 1986 it was decided to close the Synagogue definitely and sell it, as attendance fell below the required minimum to hold services.
In 1987 a memorial tablet was placed at the municipal building of Deventer in memory of the 400 Jews of Deventer who had perished. The Jewish community was consequently managed in close connection with that of Apeldoorn and Zutphen.
On January 30th, 2003 the committees of the Jewish communities of Deventer, Apeldoorn and Zutphen decided to merge into the Dutch Jewish Community 'The City Triangle'.
The Etty Hillesum Center
All in all there has been quite a decline in Jewish activities in Deventer during the following years, until in 1993 Manja Pach and Frits Grimmelhuizen realized that it would be half a century since Etty Hillesum had been murdered in Auschwitz. They took the initiative to organize a memorial week in her honor and this in the end led to the establishment of the Etty Hillesum Center.:
It became a place in which Jewish Culture could be shown and experienced in different ways. There is, for instance, a school in which texts from the Old Testament can be learned, lectures and concerts are held there, there are book presentations, as well as exhibitions.
Among the many activities of the Center – which can be found on their website - 4 video tapes produced by the video group of the Center, should especially be mentioned here:
- ' A Sunday morning in Deventer' (a walk along the places which recall Jewish life)
- ' Jewish trade in the city of Deventer'.
- ' Memories of Jewish life in Deventer, the Jewish cemetery, and interviews with Jews from Deventer'.
- ' A photo, a quest and the memory' (produced in 2008)
Copies of these productions can be found in the genealogy library of Akevoth (stored in the library of the Center for Research of the History of Dutch Jewry – The Hebrew University, Jerusalem).
Today only memories are left of the once rich Jewish society life of Deventer. Recently the last Jewish shop ("Het Stoffenhuis"), the last living sign of the Jewish life of the town, disappeared from the townscape.
Joods Leven Deventer & Omstreken-1998/2007
H.J. van Baalen
Extracted from the source:Yael Benlev-de Jong
Translation into English:Nina Mayer
Editing:Trudi Asscher & Ben Noach
Final review:Trudi Asscher
Grotere kaart weergeven