Jewish merchants settled in cities and towns around the former Zuiderzee - including Medemblik - early in the eighteenth century. In 1765, Jews living in Medemblik purchased ground for a cemetery on the Oude Haven street at the corner of the Bangert. The synagogue in the Gedempte Achterom dates to 1808. At the time, the Jewish community at Medemblik was wracked by a series of internal conflicts so severe that the municipal government intervened and threatened to close the synagogue. Finally, the Jewish consistory of the Zuiderzee region was able to restore order.
The nineteenth century witnessed a gradual decline in the Jewish population of Medemblik, although the town's Jewish population recovered briefly at the end of the century. Despite its declining numbers, the community succeeded in maintaining a cantor and a religious teacher of its own. By 1867, the synagogue had fallen into disrepair and was restored. The building was sold in 1926.
By the period between the two world wars, most of the Jews of Medemblik had moved elsewhere. In 1942, during the German occupation of the Netherlands, the majority of those Jews still remaining in Medemblik were forced to move to Amsterdam. From there, they were deported to Nazi death camps and murdered.
The Jewish community at Medemblik was dissolved in 1950 and administratively merged into that of Enkhuizein. The former synagogue was purchased by the municipality in 1976 and was reopened following a complete restoration, first as a community center and later as a gallery. Plans now exist to transfer ownership of the former synagogue to a specially established Stichting Synagoge Medemblik (Medemblik Synagogue Foundation) under the aegis of which it would be used for Jewish cultural functions and religious services. The Jewish cemetery at Medemblik was restored in 1985 and today is maintained by the local authorities.
Nieuwesluis - located near Slootdorp in the Wieringermeerpolder northwest of Medemblik - was the site of a "labor village" opened in 1934 to provide training in agriculture and trades to young Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany preparing to emigrate to Palestine. A monument at the site commemorates students from the camp arrested by the Germans in 1941 and later murdered at Mauthausen. A monument in the town hall of the village of Andijk stands as a reminder of the help offered by the people of the northern end of the province of North Holland to Jews who hid in the region during the Second World War.
The Jewish population of Medemblik and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time