The Jewish Community of Winterswijk
List of names of genealogical relevance mentioned in the article:
Michel Michels, David de Joode, Jacob Levij, David Jacobs, Moises de Joode, Abraham Davids, Garson Isak, Casper Abraham, Isaac Leiser, Isaac Moses, Philip Moses, Maly Meijer Harts, David Levi, Levy Michiel, Sophia Jacobs, Berend Salomon, Jacob Salomon, Daniel Salomon, Esther Salomon and Eva Salomon, Wijler, Meijer Poppers, Jacob Benjamin (Van) Bingen, Michiels, Leizer & Aron & Sientje van Gelder, Cohen, Barent Berendsen, Casper Abraham(s) Cohen, Salomon de Jonc, Mansfeld, Schafferman, Sardiner , Sabolewski, Elkan Schonberg, Joseph van Someren, Mozes Polak and Eleazar van Tijn , Joseph Levie Weiler, Izaak Davidson, David Levi Weiler, Salomon Menken, Levi Michiel, Benjamin Michiels, Levi Weiler, Berend Weiler, Judic Leijzers, Salomon Michiels,Samuel Berendsen, Jacob van Bingen, Mozes Simon Poppers, Elzas, Karel Simon Kan, Gans, Tobias Tal, Schweiger ,Lombard , Heijmans, Vredenburg, Da Silva Rosa, Maas, Menco, Nihom, Philips, Roeper, Schwarz, Sternfeld , Nathan Benjamins van Bingen, Menco, Fuldauer, Helena Poppers, Marianne Polak, Sigmund Seeligman, Meijler, Schwarz , De Leeuw, Schielaar, Hans Bloemendaal.
The 17th and 18th Century
Michel Michels, David de Joode and Jacob Levij were the first Jews who stayed in Winterswijk. Michel Michels lived in the village around 1647. David de Joode and Jacob Levij who lived in Winterswijk in 1660, each paid ground taxes for that year. In 1679 there was a legal case involving David Jacobs de Joode as plaintiff. He had lent money and nine bushels of rye and nine bushels of buckwheat. As David did not get his money back, he requested attachment of goods of the debtor. Between 1681 and 1683 the name of Moises de Joode appears in legal documents. He brought legal actions against three widows who had borrowed money from him and had not returned it. Against one of them "her goods were attached". Jacob 'die Witte, Jew from Wenterswick' brought several legal actions in 1684 and 1686. Merchant-butcher Abraham Davids apparently sometimes poured alcoholic drinks at his home against payment because in 1695 he tried to get money back during a trial for 'gin and brandy that he had poured'. The lease holder of the 4th Province, who collected the taxes on brandies namely also had a bone to pick with him since because of a debt, he tried to sell goods belonging to Davids. Thus Davids lost a butcher's knife, a chopping knife, a scale and furniture. In 1748 the Jewish community of Winterswijk consisted of 22 persons. In March the assessor, guardian of the Manor Bredevoort, granted a travel pass to merchant Garson Isak from Winterswijk so he could trade in Cologne. According to the pass Garson had 'medium height, a wig and a red beard'. The following Jews were in Winterswijk in 1784: Casper Abraham, Isaac Leiser, Isaac Moses, Philip Moses, Maly Meijer Harts, David Levi, Levy Michiel, Sophia Jacobs, Berend Salomon, Jacob Salomon, Daniel Salomon, Esther Salomon and Eva Salomon.
The 19th Century
During the months of July, August and September 1812 the Jewish heads of family and the bachelors of Winterswijk went to the municipality in order to record their first names and family names. The family names chosen were: Wijler, Poppers, Van-Bingen, Michiels, van Gelder, Cohen, Berendsen. Casper Abrahams Cohen, chairman of the kehilla, wrote in the summer of 1813 a few letters to the High Consistory in Zwolle. Among others he wrote that there lived 42 persons in Winterswijk and that ' to date the religious services in our synagogue were being held like a flock without a shepherd'. Among others he asks the following questions of the High Consistory in Zwolle: - Gosentouro and chosenbyrysis, could I give the honor to someone? - How should I behave during the lessons on 'Shavuoth and Hosana Rabba' – may I honor someone or do I have to let each one have his turn? - A bachelor – can he take the place of the chazzan? In mid-September 1813 the member of the synagogue council, Mr. Cohen, sent another letter to the High Consistory in which he mainly broached the question of the poor chazzan. Chazzan Barent Berendsen apparently was more or less the poorest Jew in the kehilla. Cohen wrote as follows: "His pension is terribly small" and "on top of this our almsbox/ poor fund is completely empty of pennies". Therefore it was very difficult to pay a chazzan, who had to live from a scarce income, from kehilla funds. Of twelve Jewish families who together had 37 children, 12 had lessons from Jewish religion teacher Salomon de Jonc. The other 25 children were either too young or did not live near enough. The children from the classes of rabbi de Jong were rather unschooled and only two could do some sums. The predecessors Mansfeld, Schafferman, Sardiner and chazzan Sabolewski came from Poland. The young teachers Elkan Schonberg, Joseph van Someren, Mozes Polak and Eleazarvan Tijn were all boarding with merchant Joseph Levie Weiler. Most Jewish butchers did the kosher slaughtering themselves. Izaak Davidson succeeded rabbi van Tijn, but as it turned out that his sympathies were with the reformed belief, the kehilla management insisted that he look for a job elsewhere.
Survey of the Jewish families in Winterswijk, 1813:
Weiler David Levi – merchant/second-hand dealer
Poppers Meijer – grocery shop
Gelder Leizer van – merchant
Menken Salomon – slager
Michiel Levi – egg merchant
Michiels Benjamin – egg merchant
Cohen Casper Abraham – merchant
Weiler Levie – butcher
Berendsen Barent – chazzan
Weiler Berend – slaughterer
Leijzers Judic – widow
Bingen Jacob Benjamin – butcher
The Jewish community of Winterswijk was neither very well behaved nor boring. There were quite a few family feuds, which were fought out not just at home but also in the synagogue. That appears among others from a note that Levie Michiels sent around 1814 to the inspectors of Police in Zutphen and went as follows, slightly apposed:
"I have to honor to inform you that the local Jewish community is on the whole a nasty lot, that between Casper Abr. Cohen, myself (L. Michiels) and both our families there exists an ingrown hate for already more than 30 years - also already between parents, each time resulting in mutual provocations. The supporters of each side take part in these and they often result in brawls on the street and even in the synagogue. Thus during the year 1814 eight members of the Jewish community were arrested by the Police Commissioner for rowdiness in the street and in the synagogue and were sentenced by the court to pay a fine and be jailed'.
The chairman of the kehilla, Casper Abraham Cohen, wrote around June 1813 the following letter to the Consistory of Zwolle (also slightly apposed): - "I hereby enter the complaint that when we, the parnassim requested on the 16th of last month to keep the peace during the present High Holidays, to whit that every one should stay in his own place and that they should not disturb by singing or mumbling or laughing –very little notice was taken".
"On the 21st of last month I have again rented the seating places in the synagogue, at which time I concluded that the balebatim (family heads) shall rent first and only then the young men or bachelors, the reason being that youngsters should not be among the balebatim. This also went very well but as of today, after having moved there are members who do not keep to this rule. Here too it happened that on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana (New Year) a father bought a haftara for his son, who had not yet been Bar Mitzva. I have said that this is not permitted, but it was done nevertheless. I request, therefore, that since I do not have the strength/authority to have my orders respected, the honorable gentlemen should relieve me of my duties".
Salomon, son of the egg merchant Levy Michiels, wrote to the Commission in The Hague that the old leaders of the kehilla had all died and that they had managed the board badly. For instance, according to him the poor fund had been empty for years and contributions to the Chief Rabbinate had not been made. Salomon proposed the following: -
- To let standing places in the synagogue to the highest bidders.
- All members of the community shall be called to the Tora in order of sequence according to their age.
- No person with a voice louder than that of the chazzan will be allowed to sing or speak.
- No one will be allowed to keep tobacco quid (?) in his mouth.
- In the synagogue people will only be allowed to discuss religious subjects.
- Those not complying with the rules will have to pay a fine of one guilder.
Various members of the kehilla Winterswijk dealt in textiles. The most well known ones were among others Samuel Berendsen, Jacob van Bingen, Mozes Simon Poppers and his brother Meijer Mozes Poppers. Mozes has had public auctions to sell textile lots between 1887 and 1893 held often at an inn and sometimes at his home Meijer bought in 1889 a steam-weaving mill with 25 employees. Around 1900 the first steam machine was installed and in 1913 the number of looms was increased to 100. At that time there were already 95 employees, 25 of them women. The factory existed almost 100 years. Amongst the people the factory was often called Jewish Steam.
Around 1800 there existed already a small kehilla, which had acquired a synagogue in 1770. It was a home synagogue to which not only the Jews of Winterswijk but also those of neighboring Bredevoort went in order to enable them to have minjan and to celebrate the Jewish Holidays. By 1774 the rented hall had already been left. Thereafter the Jews congregated at other localities, among others at the home of a non-Jew. After that in a barn, belonging to the Van Bingen family, in which hides were dried – not exactly a suitable space for a synagogue. There was no official chazzan, but there were two manhigim. In 1810 the person who acted as chazzan during the services ' received a small yearly sum from the poor fund which originated from voluntary donations". After 1847 enough money was collected to enable a better building to be built on the lot where the barn of the van Bingen family had stood. On that little plot a small synagogue was built of 11 x 6 meters in size. In 1929 the building was demolished and a hotel was built in its place. In July 1885 the chairman, Mr. Gans, succeeded in receiving permission to build a new synagogue in the town. The first stone was laid at a ceremony on June 18th, 1888. The following gentlemen were present: Weiler, Elzas, Kan and Gans, each of whom had bought more than 10 shares bearing no interest. The new synagogue was for that period of a particular architectural trend. Chief Rabbi Tobias Tal inaugurated the beautiful synagogue on August 14th, 1889 during a solemn ceremony. On Tuesday, September 17th the first Brith Mila in the new synagogue was performed by mohel Schweiger from Groenlo. Present in the synagogue among others were the Chazzan Lombard and the chairman of the kehilla, Mr. Heijmans. In the fall of 1889 the board of the Kehilla received permission to build a mikva a short distance from the synagogue. In the fall of 1933 the mikve was refurbished. In 1915, during a solemn synagogue service, a new tora scroll was inaugurated, which was presented by the women's association "Bigdei Koudesh". A choir performed during the service. The administration would have liked to have a chazzan for the High Holidays, as during the years before the services were held by the members of the community themselves. This succeeded and a chazzan arrived for the Jamim Noraim who received a salary of 50 guilders. In February 1918 the Chief Rabbi of Winterswijk took his leave from the kehilla Winterswijk. The chairman of the society "Hogei Das" addressed the parting chief rabbi. In the fall of 1936 the board of the synagogue of the community was offered a new parochat (veil). In honor of the new veil a special service was held at the synagogue. Speakers were, among others, Chief Rabbi Vredenburg and Da Silva Rosa, Librarian of "Ets-Haim" in Amsterdam. The synagogue, which was sold in 1943 by the Germans to the municipality, was used during the years 1943 – 1945 as a warehouse and partly also as a gymnastics/physical fitness hall. After the war the kehilla had to buy the synagogue back from the municipality of Winterswijk for the amount of f 3,000. First meetings were held at the home of the van Gelder family and later, as from 1951 in a small part of the synagogue.
From a survey made in 1912 by the teacher Roeper some facts are known about the religious school in Winterswijk. At the end of 1911 200 Jews (48 families) lived there. The children received lessons at the cheder free of charge. Boys and girls of the families van Gelder, Gans, Maas, Menco, Nihom, Philips, Roeper, Schwarz, Sternfeld and Weiler received Jewish lessons around 1920. The teacher Roeper drummed doctrine of Jewish religion into the little heads of his pupils and was called Roepertje (little Roeper) because he was so short. He commanded respect from every one because of his sharp wit and his humanity. The children had to attend apart from approximately 26 hours at the public school also another 22 hours at the Jewish school. In 1920 teacher Roeper left the Achterhoek for Deventer. In September 1941 Jewish children were not allowed anymore to attend public schools. Jewish schools were set up in all haste, also in Winterswijk, Zutphen and Enschede. 28 pupils came to Winterswijk and 33 to Doetinchem.
In 1808 the Jews of Winterswijk had "a small piece of land serving them as cemetery" in the seigniory of Bredevoort. In October 1809 the kehilla bought a supplementary piece for 120 guilders "a small piece of land to be used for ever as a cemetery for the bodies or corpses of the Jewish community of Winterswijk". Casper Abrahams Cohen and Nathan Benjamins van Bingen signed the document as being members of the board of the kehilla. In 1874 permission was granted to build a metaher house. The old cemetery next to the synagogue was officially closed on January 1st, 1884. At this time only six tombstones and two slabs (Sephardic) are apparent. However, because of its long existence (310 years), many more Jews must be buried there. Characteristic for this cemetery are two lying stones, probably above the mortal remains of the Ricardo family and on a few weathered stones the names of Gans and Poppers are still vaguely legible. That same year a new plot was allotted to the Kehilla by the Winterswijk municipality. The municipality took care of a proper enclosure, a metaher house and a passage. Above the entrance on the façade is a verse in Hebrew of psalm 23: Although I walk in a valley of deep shadow, I do not fear, because Thou art with me". The first lewaja (burial) took place in 1885 – namely of Karel Simon Kan. Some other well-known names can be read on the tombstones: Weiler, Van Gelder, Menco, Fuldauer and Poppers. One stone attracting attention with a text from psalm 103 is the one of Helena Poppers who died when she was only 30 years old. Helena studied in Groningen and Leiden and at 26 years she obtained her doctorate. Her thesis was about: "an episode from the history of the Jews in the Netherlands". Her parents, Marianne Polak and Meijer Poppers, commissioned Sigmund Seeligman in Amsterdam to publish Helena's work after her death. The dissertation by Helena was published posthumously in 1926. This thesis is still today a valuable contribution to the history of the mediene(?). There still exist several places around Winterswijk which have names in the local dialect that show the Jewish presence of yesteryear.
The War Years
Gradually the occupiers introduced all kinds of measures which at first looked very 'innocent'. Thus goods belonging to the Free Masons had to be collected and had to be seized. The only Jewish Free Mason was the manufacturer Mozes Poppers. On January 10th, 1941 all Jews of eight years and older had to register at the municipality. At that time there lived in Winterswijk 287 Jews, 42 of whom were refugees. Among the Jews of Winterswijk there was only one couple where one of them was a non-Jew (mixed marriage?) A summons was issued against the chazzan/shochet Schielaar because he was thought to have slaughtered a cow without enough anaesthetics. In Winterswijk, as in all other occupied territories, the infamous sign boards and pamphlets appeared with the text: ' forbidden for Jews'. These appeared in cinemas, hotels, boarding houses, musea, etc. End 1941 police troupes, Dutch as well as German, struck hard and arrested Jews who were unable to defend themselves (defenceless). During the night of October 8th, the day after Succoth/Feast of Tabernacles, hundreds of Jewish men were taken into custody by German and Dutch police in Arnhem, Apeldoorn, Zwolle, Zutphen, Terborg, Doetinchem, Doesburg, Laag-Keppel and Winterswijk. Only from Winterswijk that were 33 men. They were all murdered in Mauthausen within 1 to 7 weeks. Their next of kin in the Netherlands received a short message from the Germans that their relatives had been shot during an attempt to flee. Only a few of the members of Winterswijk families Meijler, Schwarz and De Leeuw have published something about this black period and recorded the history of their sad adventures during the war years.
After the War
On June 17th, 1945 the first meeting after the war of the community was held at the home of the family of Aron and Sientje van Gelder. The small group that had returned would do everything possible in order to rebuild the Jewish community. As from June 1945 51 Jews from Winterswijk had registered again as members in the community. In all 300 Jews appeared to have died and 10 returned from the camps. The Jewish Coordination Committee arranged sending children between the ages of 8 and 14 who had suffered badly in concentration camps, to Switzerland and England so they could regain strength and recuperate. The perished victims of the kehilla were commemorated by the Jewish community at the solemn unveiling of a marble plate by Chief Rabbi Justus Tal with the text by Jeremia: "Rachel cries for her children She refuses all consolation for her children Because they are not anymore" On July 15th, 1984 the restored synagogue was inaugurated in the presence of Her Majesty Princess Margriet, the ambassador of Israel and many church as well as civil authorities. The famous cantor Prof. Dr. Hans Bloemendaal led the service.
Hans Kooger: "Het Oude Volk", pages 176-218.(incl.photographs)
253 notes to references used by the author on pag.219-223 of the book
Published by Staring Instituut"/Mr. H.J.Steenbergenstichting", Doetinchem , 2001
With permission of the author.
Extracted from Dutch sources:Berrie Asscher
English Translation:Nina Mayer
End editors:Trudi Asscher and Ben Noach