Jews lived in Zevenaar from the 1630s onward. In 1640, local Jews established a cemetery just outside of the Bleeckse Poort. At the time, local Jews worked as butchers and dealers in hay.
An organized Jewish community did not emerge in Zevenaar until the 19th century. In earlier times, Jews at Zevenaar prayed in nearby Didam. In 1833, the Zevenaar community opened a synagogue of its own located in the Grietsestraat. From 1861 until 1891, the Zevenaar community buried its dead in the section of the public cemetery on the J. Perkstraat. In 1891, the community purchased ground for a new cemetery on the Arnhemseweg.
The Zevenaar community was governed by a board that also administered aid to the poor. Local voluntary organizations included a burial society, a fellowship for the study of Torah, a society for the maintenance of the synagogue, a women's society, and a youth organization. A Jewish school was opened in Zevenaar in 1875. During the 19th century, local Jews continued to work as traders, butchers, and dealers in animal feed.
The Jewish population of Zevenaar fell into decline at the outset of the 20th century. During the 1930s, a number of Jewish refugees from Germany arrived in Zevenaar; a local committee assisted them in finding homes in other locales.
Under the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II more than half of the Jews of Zevenaar were deported, first to the transit camps at Westerbork and Vught and then to Nazi death camps where they were murdered. The balance managed to survive the war in hiding. The synagogue at Zevenaar was severely damaged by American bombardment in 1945 and was razed soon after the war. The synagogue's Torah scrolls and ceremonial objects had been hidden in Amsterdam prior to the bombardment.
The Jewish community of Zevenaar was dissolved in 1947 and incorporated into that of Arnhem. The Torah scrolls and ceremonial objects that had come through the war were transferred to the Arnhem synagogue. A monument to local Jews murdered during the Second World War was installed at the entrance to Zevenaar's town hall in 1990. The two Jewish cemeteries are maintained by the municipality.
On May 4, 2013 a plaque was unveiled in Tolkamer, with the names of the Jews who were deported from Tolkamer and murdered in Auschwitz: David Northeimer, Sara Northeimer-Zwarts and Harry Gustaaf Northeimer.
Jews settled in Didam during the 18th century. By 1800, the community had grown to comprise approximately 30 members. A small synagogue was established in a house in the Weemstraat (the present-day Hoofdstraat) in 1770. The building was razed in 1900. A Jewish cemetery, known at the time to locals as the 'Joode Kerckhof' (Jew Cemetery), existed in Didam during the mid-18th century; its exact location, however, is no longer certain. In 1999, a monument in memory of the vanished Jewish community of Didam was unveiled at the site of the former synagogue.
The Jewish population of Zevenaar and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time