The first Jew to settle in Hardenberg, one Israel Emanuel, arrived in the early years of the eighteenth century; he was also was the first to be buried at the local Jewish cemetery, Het Jodenbergje (The Jews' Hill). During the 1760s and 1780s barriers were placed in the way of Jews seeking to settle in Hardenberg. Nevertheless, the Jewish population of the town continued to grow.
Hardenberg was recognized as an independent Jewish community in 1824; prior to then, it had been under the aegis of the Jewish community of Deventer. In 1855, the Hardenberg community consecrated its first synagogue, located on the Oosteinde. In 1903, the synagogue was moved to another building on the same street. The cemetery Het Jodenbergje ceased to be used at the end of the nineteenth century. A new cemetery was opened on the Gramsbergerweg in 1901.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Jewish voluntary organizations in Hardenberg included the synagogue council, a study fellowship, a women's society, and a burial society. By the 1930s, the community also boasted a tennis club, business club, and choral and theater societies. The Hardenberg community's religious teacher was also its cantor and ritual slaughter and served other communities in the surroundings as well.
The Jews of Hardenberg worked as kosher slaughterers, tailors, clothing merchants, printers, and retailers. Community member R.E. de Bruin owned a printing plant and was the publisher of the local newspaper De Vechtstreek. He also played a prominent role in public life.
During the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War, the Jews of Hardenberg suffered the same lot as Jews throughout the country. In 1942 and 1943, almost all were deported via transit camps in the Netherlands to Nazi death camps in Poland. Only a few returned alive or escaped deportation by going into hiding.
The Jewish community of Hardenberg was officially dissolved in 1947 and merged into that of Almelo. The synagogue was sold in 1948 and in 1980, despite protests, razed. In 1987, the municipal renamed a square in the neighborhood of the former synagogue after Israël Emanuel, the first Jew to settle in Hardenberg. By mid-2005, a stone commemorating the former synagogue will have been installed near the site where it had stood.
From the beginning of the nineteenth century on, a single Jewish family lived in Gramsbergen, several kilometers north of Hardenberg. The family made use of Jewish facilities in Hardenberg.
In 2000, in nearby Collendoorn, a monument was unveiled at the site of the World War II Molengoot labor camp which had included a number of Jewish prisoners among its inmates.
On 20 April 2005, a memorial stone was revealed, in the town center of Hardenberg, in the vicinity of the former synagogue.
The Jewish population of Hardenberg and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time