Roermond was one of the first places in the Netherlands where Jews are reported to have lived. Archival evidence indicates that Jews resided in Roermond continuously between 1275 and 1443. During the mid-16th century, two Jewish families lived in Roermond. The Hof van Gelre -- the court of the dukedom of present-day Gelderland -- attempted to have the two families evicted but the town council of Roermond appears to have ignored their demand. The outcome of the affair is unknown.
Jews did not appear again in Roermond until early in the 19th century. With the restructuring of the organization of Dutch Jewry by the Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap or central consistory in 1821, the Jews of Roermond were assigned to the Bijkerk or local community at nearby Sittard. In 1828, the Jewish community at Roermond was declared a Bijkerk in its own right and, in 1850, was elevated to the status Ringsynagoge or regional community.
From 1822 on, the Jews of Roermond gathered to pray in a private home. By 1850, the Roermond community had grown to the point that it was able to purchase a house on the Hamstraat having an adjacent plot of land on which to build a synagogue. The newly-constructed synagogue was consecrated in 1853. The existing house was converted into a school with a separate apartment for the synagogue's sexton.
The Roermond community made use of the of the local public cemetery, the present-day Oude Kerkhof, which was opened on the Herkenbosscherweg in Roermond in 1785. Two Jewish sections opened around 1826 and 1860. The Jews of Roermond also may have used a small Jewish cemetery on the Weerderweg in the village of Linne during the 19th century.
The Jewish community at Roermond was managed by a directorate and a council. Voluntary organizations included a burial society, torah study fellowships, and societies that provided aid to travelers, needy women, and new and expectant mothers. The community also supported its own Jewish school.
The Jewish population of Roermond began to decline toward the end of the nineteenth century. During the 1930s, the arrival of Jewish refugees from Germany lent new life to the local Jewish community.
Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War, Jewish children were expelled from Roermond's public schools at the start of the 1941 school year and a separate Jewish school was established. The school remained open until the last Jews were deported from Roermond in April of 1943. The majority of the Jewish population of Roermond was deported between August 1942 and April 1943 and subsequently murdered in Nazi death camps in Poland. Many Jews hid from deportation in villages in the surroundings of Roermond. The Roermond synagogue was used as a stable during the war and was destroyed by a bomb shortly before the end of hostilities.
The Jewish community at Roermond was reestablished after the war. A new synagogue was built on the site of the old one. In 1986, due to declining membership, the Roermond community was merged with those of Heerlen, Maastricht, and Venlo to form the NIHS (regional congregation) of Limburg. The Roermond synagogue ceased to be used thereafter.
A Star of David and Tablets of the Law inscribed in stone on the façade of the building of the former Jewish school is all that is left to remind us of the vanished Jewish community at Roermond. In May 2007 a monument in remembrance of the 133 Jews from Roermond who were murdered in the Second World War, was unveiled at the courtyard of the former synagogue on the Hamstraat.
The local Jewish cemetery is maintained by the municipality.
The Jewish population of Roermond and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time