The first Jews to settle in Elburg arrived in approximately 1700. Most were from Germany and Bohemia. By the middle of the eighteenth century, a Jewish trader who also worked as a butcher had risen to manage the local lending bank. By 1813, almost twenty Jewish families resided in Elburg. The majority of the community's breadwinners were traders but few or none were well-off.

Prentbriefkaart van de Jufferstraat in Elburg met poortje naar de synagoge, ca. 1920.

Postcard at Jufferstraat in Elburg with the gate to the synagogue, ca. 1920


Collection Jewish Historical Museum, F002881

During the first 150 years of Jewish life in Elburg, synagogue services and religious instruction were held in a private home. At the outset of the nineteenth century, a conflict lead to a schism within the community. The community was reunited by mid-century and, in 1855, built a new synagogue at a site accessible through a passageway in the Jufferenstraat. The community's cemetery was located in De Wandelingen, the present-day Oostwal. Although the oldest surviving gravestone in the cemetery dates from 1768, it is likely that the cemetery was already in use well before then.

Prentbriefkaart van de joodse begraafplaats in Elburg, ca. 1925

Postcard of the Jewish cemetery in Elburg, 1925


Collection Jewish Historical Museum, F002878.

In addition to its religious school, the Elburg community also maintained a torah study fellowship and a women's society for the maintenance of the interior of the synagogue.

The Jewish population of Elburg declined slowly over the second half of the nineteenth century and fell at an even faster rate during the first third of the twentieth, in part due to the poor state of the local economy. By 1938, only a few dozen Jews still remained in Elburg and religious life had practically ceased.

During World War II, half of the Jews of Elburg were deported and murdered in Nazi death camps. The other half managed to live out the war in hiding.

In 1947, the Elburg community was officially merged into that of Apeldoorn. The Elburg synagogue came through the war undamaged and was used as a cultural center until recently. In 2004, a plan was developed to convert the building into a Jewish museum. The opening is scheduled for September, 2005.

A plaque in memory of the murdered Jews of Elburg was installed on the wall of the local Jewish cemetery in 1985. In 1990, the cemetery was placed on the national list of protected national monuments. In 2002 volunteers from Elburg joined members of the Stichting Boete en Verzoening (Foundation for Penance and Reconciliation) from the nearby town of Lelystad in a major cleanup of the cemetery. Ongoing maintenance of the cemetery is provided by the local municipality.

In 2004 the initiative to open a Jewish museum in Elburgs' former synagogue started. The Stichting Synagogue Elburg (Foundation Elburg Synagogue) is since June 2007 the official owner of the building. The museum Sjoel Elburg opened its doors in 2008 and shows the social, economical and cultural history de of the Jews in Elburg and the 'mediene'.

The Jewish population of Elburg and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time