Jews lived in Bolsward from 1775 on. In 1786, they organized themselves into a community. Documents preserved in the municipal archives of Bolsward indicate that they had established a synagogue even prior to then.
The community's first cemetery was located on the Stadswal and also dates to 1786. It is possible that this cemetery was also used by the Jewish community of the nearby town of Sneek. In 1829, the municipal government of Bolsward declared that a portion of the town's public cemetery could also be used by the Jewish community.
With the establishment in 1821of a national hierarchy of synagogues by the Nederlands Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap, the Jewish central consistory of the Netherlands, Bolswaard was declared a Ringsynagoge (regional synagogue) falling under the authority of the Hoofdsynagoge (central synagogue) of the city of Leeuwarden.
Between 1828 en 1842, the Bolsward community maintained a charitable society to provide aid to the poor. In 1840, the community consecrated a new synagogue, built on the site of its original eighteenth century house of worship.
Jewish education in Bolsward began in the late eighteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, however, the Jewish population of Bolsward had fallen to the point that the religious school was permanently closed. Formal membership in the community declined as well.
In 1911, the Jewish community of Bolsward was fused with that of Sneek. The Bolsward synagogue, being no longer in use, was sold. The building was badly damaged in 1941 and was razed in 1991. Today, Bolsward's two Jewish cemeteries are maintained by the local government.
The Jewish population of Bolsward and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time