Alphen aan de Rijn

The first evidence of Jewish settlement in Alphen dates to the founding of a Jewish cemetery in the second half of the eighteenth century. The first synagogue in Alphen was dedicated in 1805. With the establishment of a national hierarchy of synagogues in 1821 the synagogue was declared a Ringsynagoge or regional synagogue with responsibility for nearby synagogues in smaller locales.

Postcard from Alphen aan de Rijn, ca. 1900

Postcard from Alphen aan de Rijn, ca. 1900

During the first decades of the nineteenth century, the Jewish population of Alphen grew to such an extent that, in 1833, a new synagogue was opened on the present day Van Manderloostraat. This building was damaged by fire a number of times but each time was restored anew. Toward the end of the nineteenth century the Jewish population of Alphen began to decline. The number of children attending Alphen's Jewish school also fell.

At the start of the twentieth century Alphen boasted two Jewish public speaking societies and a Jewish theater society. Other communal institutions included a burial society and two women's clubs dedicated to charitable work and the care of the synagogue's furnishings and ceremonial objects.

In the 1930s, several dozen Jewish families fleeing Nazi Germany settled in Alphen and nearby Bodegraven. Most of the Jewish inhabitants of Alphen were deported in 1942 and subsequently murdered in Nazi death camps. Only a few survived the war in hiding.

In 1947 the Jewish community of Alphen lost its autonomy and was absorbed by the Jewish community of the city of Leiden. Alphen's Jewish cemetery was cleared in 1964 and the remains of the dead moved to the Jewish cemetery at Katwijk.

The synagogue on the Van Manderloostraat survived the war undamaged and eventually became the property of the Remonstrant Church. In 1980, a chest containing several copper candelabras and a Chanukah Menorah was found under the floor of the former synagogue. Only after difficult negotiations between the Commission for Jewish Property and the Remonstrants did the Menorah eventually find its way to the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem a decade later.

In 1989 a collection was held for a monument in memory of the Jewish war victims of Alphen. In May, 1990, a memorial sculpture was unveiled on the Raoul Wallenbergplein

by guest of honor Simon Wiesenthal. In 2001, the Jewish Alphen Foundation was established with the goal of serving as the successor to the former official Jewish community of Alphen.

The Jewish population of Alphen aan de Rijn

The size of the Jewish community over time