Jews settled in a number of villages on the islands of Goeree and Overflakkee during the second half of the eighteenth century. By the outset of the nineteenth century, a community had been formed comprising the Jews of Middelharnis and Sommelsdijk.
At first, the community held religious services in a private home in Sommelsdijk; later, a room was hired in Middelharnis and furnished as a synagogue. In 1821, the community purchased a building on the Achterweg which served as its synagogue for almost two decades. A new synagogue, located on the Zandpad between Middelharnis and Sommelsdijk was built in 1840. The synagogue was restored in 1904 and remained in use until World War II.
The community maintained three cemeteries. The oldest, located on the Oost Havendijk in Middelharnis, was founded in 1847. The cemetery on the Hobbemastraat in Middelharnis dates to 1865. Until 1870, the community also buried its dead in a cemetery located on the Mariadijk in Goedereede.
The Middelharnis community was led by a community directorate and council, a member of which also served as treasurer for the collection and disbursement of assistance to the Jews of Palestine. Voluntary organizations included a society for Torah study and public service and a society for the maintenance of the synagogue and its appurtenances. A Jewish school in Middelharnis served local Jewish children and also the children of the Jews of Oude Tonge and Dirksland.
Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, all the Jews of Middelharnis - with the exception of a few who had managed to go into hiding - were deported and murdered. The largest round-up and deportation occurred early in November of 1942.
The synagogue building was sold soon after the war and was put to a number of uses over the decades since. A plaque in memory of the murdered Jews of Middelharnis was affixed to the building in 1995. The Jewish community of Middelharnis was administratively merged into that of Rotterdam in 1947. The local authorities of Dirksland, Goedereede, and Middelharnis maintain the former community's three Jewish cemeteries.
The Jewish population of Middelharnis and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time