Jews settled in Rijssen sometime during the 18th century. During the 1790s, Jewish inhabitants of Rijssen were assigned grounds for a cemetery in the street named De Hagen. By 1813, eight Jewish families resided in Rijssen. They earned their livings as traders, butchers, and farmers. Their children attended the local public school.

An organized Jewish community was founded in Rijssen after 1813. In 1830, the community built a synagogue on the Elsenerstraat. In 1838, the Rijssen community was awarded independent status. In 1878, the community opened a new cemetery in a lane named de Brekelt, a side street of the Arend Baanstraat. A new synagogue was constructed in Rijssen in 1885.

At the outset of the 20th century, the Rijssen community was governed by a three-member directorate. The community employed a religious teacher of its own for its children. A Jewish-owned cigar factory stood in Wierdensestraat at the time.

Between November 1942 and April 1943, under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, almost all the Jews in Rijssen were deported and later murdered in Nazi death camps. Only a few returned alive from the camps. A small number of local Jews managed to survive the war in hiding. The synagogue was used as a storage place during the war; a part of its contents had been taken to Almelo and was later recovered.

Rachel Pagrach (1838-1935), mutsenwasser te Rijssen.

Rachel Pagrach (1838-1935),washerwoman at Rijssen.


source: Jaarboek Twente, 1985

The synagogue at Rijssen was sold soon after the war. The Rijssen community was dissolved in 1948; the location was then placed under the jurisdiction of the Jewish community at Almelo. The cemetery in De Hagen was cleared away in 1949. The cemetery near the Arend Baanstraat is now maintained by local authorities. A monument in memory of the more than 100 Jewish residents of Rijssen deported and murdered during the Second World War was unveiled in the cemetery in 1990. In 1998, a memorial plaque was mounted on the façade of Elsenerstraat 47, the building that had once served as the synagogue of the vanished Jews of Rijssen.

Nijverdal and Holten
The Koninklijke Stoomweverij (Royal Steam Looms) owned by the Jewish Salomonson family in nearby Nijverdal contributed much to the local economy. During the mid-nineteenth century, the Salomonson family also established a business in nearby Holten, the presence of which attracted Jewish residents. An attempt to create an independent Jewish community at Holten did not succeed; nevertheless, a synagogue was built in Holten in 1921. The synagogue was sold after the war.

In 1942, under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, a prison work camp for Jews was opened at Twilhaar near Nijverdal. Throughout the war, Nijverdal was a center of organized anti-German resistance in the province of Overijssel. Twelve local families provided hiding places to Jewish children.

Prentbriefkaart van het Salomonspark in Nijverdal, ca. 1943

Prentbriefkaart van het Salomonspark in Nijverdal, ca. 1943

A small Jewish community arose in Hellendoorn during the second half of the eighteenth century and continued to grow over the course of the nineteenth. The Jews of Hellendoorn prayed in a house on the Schapenmarkt in the cellar of which they built a ritual bath. In its early years, the Hellendoorn community buried its dead in the Jewish cemetery at Raalte. In 1852, they opened a cemetery of their own in the neighborhood called Nieuwstad on the present-day Ommerweg. As the nineteenth century drew to a close to Jewish population of Hellendoorn began to fall. The fate of the Hellendoorn synagogue is not known. The local authorities maintain the Jewish cemetery in which only a dozen or so gravestones remain visible.

The Jewish population of Rijssen and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time