“ Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4, 1011 RH. Tel: +31 20 626 99 45. Open: Daily 11am-5pm. „
A LITTLE BACKGROUND HISTORY When the Nazis invaded in 1940 there were 140000 Jews living in the Netherlands. By the time the country was liberated, 100000 had been deported and murdered, while only half of the 16000 people who remained and went ‘underground’ survived. The large Jewish community in Amsterdam-which made up 10% of the total population of the city prior to the war-was virtually wiped out. THE JEWISH HISTORY MUSEUM Disturbing, touching, profoundly sad and deeply emotive, the Joods Historich Museum is located in the heart of the old Jewish quarter near the City Hall and Rembranthuis, just to the south of the busy square at JD Meijerplein. Easily accessible by public transport-tram numbers 9,14 and 20 stop nearby and the Waterlooplein Metro Station is a five minute walk away-the museum is a unique combination of four seventeenth and eighteenth century Ashkenazic synagogues-including the Great Synagogue (1671), the first public synagogue in western Europe-linked together by modern steel and class constructions. The permanent and temporary exhibitions covering Jewish identity, the social history of Dutch Jewry and the Jewish religion in general are extremely well presented and thought provoking. After paying the entrance fee of 10 Guilders (f5.50 for International Student Card holders and further reductions for children), turn left- the kosher café and gift shop are located to the right- and check your bags into the free lockers. The first exhibition hall is devoted to the German Occupation and Zionism- the Jews’ struggle to establish their own homeland. There are some extremely moving exhibits here, including a pretty harrowing painting of a line of Jews being led into one of the ‘death trains’ and some pictures of the old Ghetto. After walking through a temporary exhibition space-currently displaying some excellent photos by a Czech-born female photographer who was active in the Dutch Resist
ance-the next permanent exhibition displays pre-war artefacts (downstairs) as well as a variety of exhibits detailing the growth of Jewish industries prior to WW2. WHERE MOKUM IS HOME Mokum-the old Jewish name for Amsterdam-is imaginatively brought to life in the museum’s final section. In an imaginative display aimed primarily at children, visitors walk through a series of rooms modelled on a typical Jewish home in Mokum. I particularly liked the talking wall, which shared some interesting recollections of life before and during the war, and the collection of children’s toys. TOURS Guided tours of the museum are available for a fee of 55 Guilders per hour for groups no larger than 25 people. Walkman tours-available in Dutch, French, English, German and Hebrew-take 45 minutes and cost 2.5 Guilders per person. The ‘Walking Tour through Jewish Amsterdam’ takes one hour, costing 55 Guilders per person (group size not to exceed 25 people.) You can also look around the Portuguese Synagogue, which was the largest synagogue in Europe when it was completed in 1675. A few minutes walk from the museum in the direction of Waterlooplein, guided tours of the synagogue cost 27.5 Guilders plus 5 Guilders admission (7.5 Guilders per person if the group is smaller than ten people) and last for half an hour. The synagogue is closed on Saturdays and Jewish holidays. OPENING HOURS The museum is open daily (closed on Yom Kippur) from 11am until 5pm. See www.jhm.nl for further information.