Historical evidence indicates that in 1604 there existed in Hoorn a street named 'Jeudje' or Jews' Street, possible proof that Jews resided in the town at the time. References also point to the presence of converts to Judaism in the surroundings during the same period. Three such converts were put on trial in nearby Grosthuizen at the start of the seventeenth century.
Hoorn flourished as a port and trading center throughout the seventeenth century and its rise attracted many newcomers. In 1622, several Portuguese-Jewish merchants settled in the town. Although two of these new arrivals received full rights and citizenship in 1631, it remained forbidden for Jews to open stores or engage in retail trade in Hoorn. Jews were also barred from guild membership. Ashkenazi Jews settled in Hoorn during the eighteenth century.
It was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that a formal Jewish community was organized in Hoorn. Initially, religious services were held in a private home. Only in 1780 did the community build a synagogue of its own, located on the Italiaanse Zeedijk. The Jewish cemetery at Hoorn was officially inaugurated in 1778; however, the oldest remaining gravestone in the cemetery is dated 1762.
The Jewish population of Hoorn increased over the first half of the nineteenth century. By 1860, the Hoorn community was the thirteenth largest in the Netherlands. The community offered Jewish education for its children and built a schoolhouse in 1835. The synagogue was restored in 1874 and enlarged in 1883.
The Hoorn community maintained an official synagogue council. Voluntary organizations included a burial society, a women's society for the upkeep of the interior of the synagogue, and societies providing aid to the sick and to women in childbirth. A trade school was opened for a short time beginning in 1865. After its closure, the community continued to maintain a loan fund to assist youngsters in learning trades. A number of Jewish residents of Hoorn participated in local and national government. As the nineteenth century passed, membership in the Jewish community declined, a process that continued into the twentieth century. By the years preceding the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, the Hoorn synagogue was used only on special occasions.
A few weeks after the German invasion in 1940, all German-Jewish residents in Hoorn were arrested and sent to the prison and transit camp for Jews at Westerbork. In April, 1942, those Jews remaining in Hoorn were forcibly removed to Amsterdam and subsequently deported to Nazi death camps. A few managed to escape into hiding. During the war years, the synagogue was sold to a member of the Dutch collaborationist NSB party. The contents of its interior remain unaccounted for. After the war, in 1953, the synagogue was sold to the municipality of Hoorn and subsequently razed.
The Jewish community of Hoorn was dissolved and administratively merged into that of Enkhuizen in 1948. The cemetery was cleared away in 1969 to make way for road construction. Gravestones and the remains of the dead were exhumed and moved to the non-confessional cemetery on the Berkhouterweg. A memorial plaque marks the site of the former Jewish cemetery. In 1979, the municipality unveiled a monument to the memory of the murdered Jews of Hoorn. A plaque commemorating the former synagogue is affixed to the wall of the post-war building that now stands on its site.
On May 4, 2006 on the small bridge between Het Jeudje en G.J. Kenninkstraat a memorial was unveiled commemorating the people who gave shelter to Jews in hiding during the war.
The Jewish population of Hoorn and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time