The Jewish community of Appingedam is one of the oldest in the province of Groningen. In 1563 a Jew from Prague obtained permission to lease and operate the local lending bank. Documents dated 1595 and 1605 indicate that Jews from Appingedam engaged in trade with the nearby German town of Emden.
Throughout the seventeenth century, the Jewish community of Appingedam remained quite small. During the eighteenth century, numerous Jews migrated to the town. Most of the new arrivals were traded porcelain, gold, cattle, or hides. Others were butchers. Over the course of the eighteenth century, the municipal pawnshop was operated by Jewish leaseholders.
During the first half of the eighteenth century, a number Jews - including a teacher and the community's ritual slaughterer - gained full rights as citizens of Appingedam. However, the economic circumstances of the Jews of Appingedam were somewhat difficult. In 1780, out of fear of excessive competition in the porcelain trade, local Jews petitioned the municipal council to prevent additional Jews from settling in the Appingedam.
In 1667, the Appingedam community opened a synagogue on the Bolwerk. Two years later, however, the synagogue was closed under pressure from the Reformed Church. From the middle of the eighteenth century on, synagogue services were held in a private house on the Dijkstraat. Due to the growth of the community throughout the eighteenth century, this solution did not remain viable. In 1801, a new synagogue was dedicated in the Broerstraat. With the establishment of a Netherlands-wide Jewish community structure in 1821, the Appingedam synagogue was designated as a regional synagogue.
Early in its history, the Jewish community of Appingedam made use of a section of the Jewish cemetery of nearby Farmsum. In 1762 or 1763, the community purchased its own burial ground on the Heidensgang in Appingedam.
The Jewish community of Appingedam maintained a number of charitable organizations. In addition, two women's societies cared for the synagogue and its appurtenances. A cultural society was founded in 1870. A separate organization for the care of the Jewish poor was subsidized by the municipality until 1928.
During the German occupation the Jews of Appingedam were subjected to the same measures and mistreatment as Jews elsewhere. In September 1941, Jewish pupils were expelled from the local public schools. A separate school established for them that remained open only until the summer of 1942. In August, 1942, the Jews of Appingedam, together with all the Jews of the province of Groningen, were deported. Only a half a dozen Appingedam Jews survived the war.
In 1948, what was left of the Jewish community of Appingedam was merged into the Jewish community of the city of Groningen. The Appingedam synagogue, damaged by a bomb during the last days of the war, was eventually sold. It was later restored and is now used for worship by the Free Reformed Church. In 1985, a memorial bearing the names of the murdered Jews of Appingedam was unveiled in the building. In 1968, the cemetery on the Heidensegang was declared a protected monument. Since then, it has been cared for by the national and local governmental agencies.
The Jews of nearby Uithuizen were never awarded the status of an independent community, even though had their own cemetery and, during the second half of the nineteenth century, held their own religious services. The deportations of the Second World War put an end to the Jewish presence in Uithuizen. The cemetery, located on the Hoofdstraat West, is now maintained by the municipality of Eemsmond.
The Jewish population of Appingedam
The size of the Jewish community over time