The first Jewish resident of Franeker was officially registered in 1658. Prior to then, a number of Jews had resided temporarily in Franeker while assisting in the publishing and printing of Hebrew books at the local Protestant college. Jews also studied medicine at the University of Franeker. The first Jewish student to be awarded a doctorate at the university received his degree in 1747.

Throughout the eighteenth century, the Jewish population of Franeker remained small. An organized Jewish community did not arise in Franeker until the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1821, the Franeker community was declared a Bijkerk (local community) under the Ringsynagoge (regional community) of the city of Harlingen. In 1830, the Franeker community was formally merged into that of Harlingen.

During the 1930s, a Zionist kibbutz for religious Palestine pioneers was located in Franeker. Dozens of young Jews obtained agricultural training at the kibbutz prior to the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.

Most of the Jews of Franeker were arrested and deported in a single raid in 1941. Only a few survived the war. A very small number of local Jews came through the war in hiding.

The Jewish population of Franeker and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time