A small Jewish community existed at Waalwijk by the 18th century. At the time, the community prayed at the home of one of its members. A schism in the community in 1795 led to its dissolution. With the redistricting of Jewish communities throughout the Netherlands in 1814 Waalwijk was assigned to the regional community of Tilburg and made part of the local community at Capelle. In 1835, the Jews of Waalwijk were recognized as an independent local community in their own right.

The oldest Jewish cemetery known to have existed at Waalwijk was used by the community until 1805. According to records, it was located near the Boschhuysje, an outbuilding on the terrain of the former castle of Besoyen. Another local Jewish cemetery existed in the Horst district of nearby Loon op Zand until 1825. A third Jewish cemetery appears to have existed sometime during the mid-19th century on the Rigtpad in Waalwijk somewhere between the Loint and the Besoijense Steeg. Later, the Jews of Waalwijk buried their dead at Oisterwijk. Nothing remains of the three older cemeteries; they may have been cleared away sometime during the 20th century without the consent of the local Jewish community.

Synagoge in de Grotestraat te Besoijen

Synagogue in the Grotestraat in Besoyen

During the early 19th century, the Waalwijk community prayed in a private home in Besoyen. In 1847, one of the three so-called 'tempeliershuizen' in Besoyen, in Medieval times housing the Knights Templar, was rented for use as a synagogue. The local Jewish community purchased the building and 1869. The building was renovated and inaugurated a synagogue in 1884. It was badly damaged by fire in 1901 but was rebuilt in the same year and the new synagogue was consecrated in 1902.

An internal conflict led to a split in the Waalwijk community between 1878 and 1904. The community was governed by a board. Local Jews maintained communal organizations including a burial society and a women's society.

The synagogue at Waalwijk was confiscated by the Germans in 1940 at the start of their World War II occupation of the Netherlands. The furnishings of the synagogue were then sold at public sale. The synagogue's Torah scrolls came through the war unharmed and what later sent to Israel. Half of the approximately thirty Jews living in Waalwijk were murdered during the war.

An independent Jewish community was not reestablished at Waalwijk after the war; instead, the community was merged into that at Den Bosch in 1947. The former synagogue was first used as a gym and later as the storage room of the shoe factory.

The building was razed in 1965. In 1969, a plaque was unveiled at the corner of the Grotestraat and Tempelierstraat to mark the site of the former house of worship.

The Jewish population of Waalwijk and surroundings:

The size of the Jewish community over time