In 1767 a Jew from the town of Oisterwijk was granted permission by the provincial parliament to settle in Tilburg, this despite the opposition of Tilburg's town council. In 1791 additional pressure from the provincial parliament enabled a number of Jewish families to settle in Tilburg as well.

Inwijding van de synagoge in Tilburg, 1948

Consecration of the Tilburg synagogue, 1948

Early in the 19th century, the industrialization of Tilburg attracted more Jews to move to the town from Oisterwijk. Between 1814 and 1819, synagogue services were being held in several hired locales in Tilburg. In 1820, the Jews of Tilburg purchased a building on the Piusplein and converted it into a synagogue. Later, the continued growth of the Jewish population of Tilburg caused the community to move the synagogue to a larger building on the Zomerstraat. In 1873-1874, the community built a new synagogue on the Comediestraat, the present-day Willem II-straat.

Most of the Jews in Tilburg worked in the retail trade, the textile industry, and the meat business. The Tilburg community was governed by a community council and community directorate. The community directorate also served as a board for providing aid to the poor. Little is known about Jewish education in Tilburg; however, it is certain that no Jewish school existed in the town during the 19th century. During the early years of Jewish presence in Tilburg, the community buried its dead at the Jewish cemetery in Oisterwijk. In 1855, the community opened a new cemetery located on the Bredaseweg in Tilburg.

The Jewish population of Tilburg continued to grow during the early twentieth century, in part due to the town's flourishing economy. Jewish life bloomed and numerous social and cultural organizations were founded. During the 1930s, a significant number of Jewish refugees from Germany settled in Tilburg.

During the World War II German occupation of the Netherlands, Jewish children were expelled from Tilburg's public schools in September 1941. In the same month, a Jewish school was established. The Jewish school functioned through April 1943. A branch of the German-controlled Jewish Council was established in Tilburg in the summer of 1942.

Between August 1942 and May 1943, about 40% of the Jewish population was being deported. Only a small number of them returned from the camps. The majority of the Jews of Tilburg however, survived by hiding. Jews from elsewhere in the Netherlands also found hiding places in and around Tilburg.

The interior of the synagogue at Willem II-straat was destroyed during the war. On the advice of the Jewish Council the many valuables, such as Torah scrolls, jewelry and a large part of the inventory, were brought to safety in Amsterdam. After the war, the synagogue building was restored and in 1949 it was inaugurated and used again.

In 2008 next to the synagogue a garden was made in memory of Helga Deen and all the other holocaust victims from Tilburg. A short film, which is kept in the archive, gives an impression of the Jewish history of Tilburg.

Voormalige synagoge te Tilburg, 1984

Former synagogue of Tilburg, 1984

Jewish life was reestablished in Tilburg after the war. The synagogue was reopened in 1949. Ownership of the synagogue building was transferred to the municipality in 1976. For a time, the building served a number of social and cultural functions. In 1998, ownership reverted to the Liberaal Joodse Gemeente Brabant (Liberal Jewish Community of Brabant). Due to declining membership, the local Orthodox community (NIG Tilburg) plans to fuse with the Orthodox community in Breda sometime in the near future.

A memorial stone honoring Jews of Tilburg murdered during the war was unveiled at the Jewish cemetery in 1948. A plaque in memory of deported Jewish school children was unveiled in Centrum School on the Korte Schijfstraat in 1989. The cemetery on the Bredaseweg has been maintained by the local authorities since 1973. Restoration of the house for the ritual preparation of the dead was completed in 2005.

The Jewish population of Tilburg and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time