The first Jews to settle in Oud-Beijerland arrived there in the middle of the eighteenth century. At first, they prayed in the home of one of their numbers. Only in 1843 did the community construct a synagogue. The new synagogue building also contained a schoolroom and an apartment for the community's teacher. From 1790 on, the Jews of Oud-Beijerland buried their dead in a cemetery located in the Ossenbil, near the present-day Prinses Irenestraat.
The Jewish community at Oud-Beijerland was managed by a directorate. Other officials included a treasurer for the collection and disbursement of funds for Jews in Eretz Israel. Most of the Jews in Oud-Beijerland engaged in trade. During the 1850s, a member of the Jewish community served on the town council.
At the outset of the twentieth century, almost a quarter of the Jews of Oud-Beijerland survived on public support. In the decades that followed, the Jewish population of Oud-Beijerland fell to the point that the community could not form a governing council. Eventually, community membership became so small that religious services could no longer be held even on the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Late in the 1930s, a small number of Jewish refugees from Germany settled in Oud-Beijerland.
Between August and October of 1942, under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, most of the Jews of Oud-Beijerland were compelled to move to Amsterdam. From Amsterdam, they were deported to Nazi death camps. Only one of the deported survived. Some local Jews managed to go into hiding but were later betrayed and deported to their deaths. A few Oud-Beijerland Jews escaped deportation by obtaining baptism papers.
The synagogue building was sold after the war and later housed a school for home economics. Two plaques on the façade of the building commemorate its original function. In 1947, the Jewish community at Oud-Beijerland was merged into the district of that of Rotterdam. In 1987, a monument was unveiled on the Havendam in Oud-Beijerland in memory of the murdered Jews of the town. The Jewish cemetery is maintained by the local authorities. In 1997, a local high school successfully raised funds to provide the cemetery with a new fence.
In 2005, the Stichting Nederlands Kunstbezit, the Dutch National Art Collections Foundation, presented a temporary loan to the municipality of Oud-Beijerland a silver Kiddush cup. The cup had been given as a gift in 1889 to Hartog (Zwi Uri) Koopman. Koopman, who died in 1892, was the director of the Van Koopman Bank and a prominent member of the Jewish community at Oud-Beijerland.
Buitensluis, Klaaswaal and Zuid-Beijerland
During the second half of the nineteenth century, approximately 20 Jews lived in the villages of Buitensluis, Klaaswaal, and Zuid-Beijerland. Together, they maintained a common synagogue. A group of German Jewish refugee children, members of a Youth Aliya organization, resided in the nearby village of Mijnsheerenland during the autumn of 1939.
The Jewish population of Oud-Beijerland and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time