The first Jews to settle in Hoogezand arrived at the outset of the eighteenth century. For more than one hundred years thereafter, they prayed in a private residence. Not until 1810 did they convert a house located in the Kalkwijk into a synagogue. In 1854, the Jews of Hoogezand constructed a new building, located north of the Winschoterdiep, having sufficient space for a synagogue, meeting hall, school, and an apartment for the school's teacher.
The official administration of the Hoogezand community included a synagogue council and a council for aid to the poor. Voluntary organizations included a women's society and a burial society. During the early twentieth century, the community also maintained a youth society.
In its early years, the Hoogezand community buried its dead at Appingedam and at Veendam. From 1836 on (from 1790 according to some sources), the community utilized a cemetery of its own on the Knijpslaan in Kolham (now part of the municipality of Slochteren).
Most of the Jews of Hoogezand worked as butchers, livestock dealers, street vendors, and other sorts of traders. Little is known about their economic position. One of the major figures in the struggle to improve the position of women in the Netherlands, Dr. Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929), was a Jew born in Sappemeer near Hoogezand.
In 1907, the name of the Hoogezand community was changed to Hoogezand-Sappemeer. In 1922, the Jewish community of Noordbroek and Zuidbroek was incorporated into that of Hoogezand-Sappemeer. In 1931, management of the Hoogezand-Sappemeer community was taken over by the Jewish community at Groningen for a period of two years.
Most of the Jews of Hoogezand-Sappemeer were deported and murdered under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War; however, a small number managed to survive the war in hiding. During the war, the Hoogezand synagogue was used by the members of the Dutch collaborationist NSB party as a storage place for flammable materials. Although the synagogue's Torah scrolls and ceremonial objects had been hidden in Groningen and Amsterdam beforehand, some of the interior furnishings of the synagogue were stolen and the rest vandalized.
The synagogue building was sold immediately following the war and was razed soon after. The Jewish community of Hoogezand-Sappemeer was officially disbanded in 1948 and administratively placed under the jurisdiction of the Groningen community. A monument at the Hoogezand railway station preserves the memory of the Jews who were deported to their deaths via that site. Jewish cemeteries in the vicinity are now maintained by the local authorities of Hoogezand-Sappemeer and of Slochteren.
The Jewish population of Hoogezand-Sappemeer and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time