The first Jews to settle in Oisterwijk arrived from Bohemia and Moravia during the second quarter of the eighteenth century. An organized Jewish community soon took root. At the time, most of the Jews in Oisterwijk worked as butchers or traders. Oisterwijk also came to be a base for Jewish itinerant peddlers and market vendors.
The Jewish cemetery on the present-day Hondsbergselaan at the south of Oisterwijk dates from 1748. The first synagogue in Oisterwijk was opened in 1758 in a building on the Lindeind. In 1762, the community purchased a building on the Kerkeind and furnished it as a synagogue. The community also maintained a Reis-Chevrei (traveling fellowship) for conducting synagogue services for Jewish attendees at the annual fairs.
The majority of the Jews of Oisterwijk moved to Tilburg beginning early in the nineteenth century. By 1908, the community had practically ceased to exist. A conflict then arose amongst the remaining Jews in Oisterwijk as to whether to merge their community into that of Waalwijk or Tilburg. The pro-Tilburg faction eventually won out.
Forty-five Jews, almost half of whom were refugees, lived in Oisterwijk at the outset of the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II. A number of the Jews living in Oisterwijk were employed at the local leather goods factory owned by the Jewish company Adler & Oppenheimer. The majority of the Jews in Oisterwijk were deported and murdered by the Germans during the war.
A few Jewish families returned to Oisterwijk after the war. A memorial stone on the grounds of the leather goods factory is inscribed with the names of the Jewish employees of the factory murdered during the war. The memorial stone was sculpted by Dutch artist Jaap Kaas. The Jewish cemetery was restored in 1997; the restoration was financed by private donations.
The Jewish population of Oisterwijk and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time