Jews of German origin settled at the garrison town of Nieuweschans in approximately 1630. Soon after, they organized a Jewish community together with the Jews of the nearby village of Bellingwolde.

Prentbriefkaart van de Synagoge in Nieuweschans, ca. 1960

Postcard of the Synagoge in Nieuweschans, ca. 1960

In 1811, the community established a synagogue located in the Achterstraat in Nieuweschans. From the nineteenth century on, the community maintained two cemeteries. The older one, located near the Bunderpoort in the eastern part of Nieuweschans just outside the town's walls, was purchased in 1811. The second cemetery, established in 1881, was located on the Kerkweg in the village of Bellingwolde.

At the close of the nineteenth century, the Nieuweschans community was governed by a three-member directorate. Voluntary organizations included men's and women's burial societies. The community did not provide organized Jewish education for its children; instead, Jewish parents paid individually for lessons for their children given by a visiting religious teacher from nearby Winschoten.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Jewish population of Nieuweschans had fallen to the point that religious services were held only on the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. By the 1920s, the required minyan of ten men required for prayer could no longer be organized even for the high holiday services and, thus, in 1925, the synagogue was closed. The community later sold the synagogue building and, from the proceeds, furnished a small place for prayer in Bellingwolde.

Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, the remaining Jews of Nieuweschans were deported and murdered - with the exception, that is, of two individuals who managed to survive the war in hiding. In 1948, the Jewish community of Nieuweschans was officially dissolved and administratively placed under the jurisdiction of the community at Stadskanaal. The former synagogue was purchased by the municipality of Nieuweschans in 1968 and was restored by the national monuments preservation authority of the Netherlands in 1973. In 2004, the building was purchased by the Stichting Vrienden van de Nieuwe Schans (Friends of Nieuweschans Foundation). The two Jewish cemeteries at Nieuweschans are currently maintained by the local authorities.

In the Jewish cemetery at Bellingwolde, a memorial was unveiled in March 2010, honoring the deported Jews.

The Jewish population of Nieuweschans and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time