The Jewish community at Raalte arose early in the 18th century but did not achieve independent status until 1838. Prior to then, the Jews of this small rural settlement belonged to the Jewish community at nearby Deventer.
A Jewish cemetery was opened on the Oude Molenweg in Raalte in 1830. A synagogue was founded in 1838 but its location is no longer known. A second synagogue, located on the Stationstraat, was inaugurated in 1889.
At the outset of the twentieth century, the governing council of the Raalte community consisted of two members. During the 1930s, five Jewish refugees fleeing German settled in Raalte.
Between September 1942 in January 1944, under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, most of the Jews in Raalte were deported to Nazi death camps in Poland and murdered. Only a few managed to survive the war in hiding. The synagogue was plundered in 1943 and afterward was used as a storage place. The whereabouts of the Torah scrolls and other appurtenances of the synagogue remain unknown. The archives of the Raalte community were stolen by the Nazi SS.
In 1947, the Jewish community at Raalte was formally dissolved and placed within the jurisdiction of the Jewish community at Deventer. The synagogue was sold soon after the war. The building now serves as a church of the Vrije Katholieken (Liberal Catholic Chrurch). A plaque mounted on the wall of a former synagogue in 1985 commemorates the deported and murdered Jews of the town. The local Jewish cemetery is maintained by the municipal authorities; forty of its gravestones were restored in the summer of 2000 by the Beth Chaim Foundation of nearby Meppel.
The Jewish population of Raalte and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time