The first Jews to arrive on the island of Voorne-Putten settled in Geervliet, Heenvliet, Zuidland, Zwartewaal, Hellevoetsluis and Brielle in approximately 1750

In 1756, the municipal authorities of Brielle permitted a few wealthy Jews to settle in the town. The Jews were granted citizenship and freedom of religion but were denied entry into all of the town's guilds except for that of the street vendors. In return for payment, they were exempted from service in the town guards and permitted to make affirmations using a special "Jews Oath" rather than swearing on a bible.

Turfkade in Brielle with a synagogue (building of circular window), circa 1930

Turfkade in Brielle with a synagogue (building of circular window), circa 1930

In 1804, the Jews of Brielle received permission to convert an old slaughterhouse into a synagogue, where they were joined in worship by the Jews of nearby Hellevoetsluis. In 1818, the Brielle community acquired a building behind the local Catholic rectory and converted it into a new synagogue. This building served as a synagogue until 1866 when the building was sold to the local Catholic parish. Five years later, a new synagogue, complete with quarters for a school, was opened on the Turfkade. The Brielle community buried their dead on the Jewish cemetery in Geervliet, a village next to Heenvliet.

The economic importance of Brielle declined during the second half of the nineteenth century and, with it, the town's Jewish population. By 1899, the Jewish community was without a cantor or teacher. Soon after, religious services ceased altogether. Finally, all that remained of community activities was the distribution of alms to the poor.

During the Second World War, all the Jews of Brielle were deported and murdered. The synagogue was vandalized and its contents plundered, only the Torah scrolls were saved and eventually brought to Rotterdam.

In 1947 the Jewish community of Brielle was officially merged into that of Rotterdam. A memorial in Brielle's town hall is inscribed with the names of local Jews murdered during the war. The monument was unveiled in 1970 on May 4, the anniversary day marking the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.

In 2001, the former synagogue building on the Turfkade was purchased by a local foundation dedicated to its preservation. Prior to the purchase, the former synagogue had served for a half century as a warehouse. A stone from the original pediment of the synagogue is preserved in the Den Briel Historical Museum. A memorial plaque was installed in the façade of the building and, in 2004, restoration was commenced. From September 2005, the former synagogue (Sjoel Brielle) houses a cultural center.

The Jewish population of Brielle and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time