Jews settled in Zwartsluis late in the 17th century. An organized Jewish community had begun to take shape in Zwartsluis early in the 18th century. By 1722, the community opened a cemetery on the Leeuwarder Schans (also known as the Kleine Schans). The cemetery was also used by the Jews of nearby Meppel.
The first synagogue in Zwartsluis was in operation as early as the 18th century but the exact date of its founding is not known. By the mid-19th century, the synagogue was at the point of collapse. The Zwartsluis community constructed a new synagogue with an annex building for religious study on the Baanstraat in 1851. A new cemetery was opened behind the new synagogue. The old synagogue building was sold in 1852. The Zwartsluis community founded a religious school sometime during the 1840s and constructed a new schoolhouse in 1873.
The Jewish community at Zwartsluis was governed by two managers. Voluntary organizations included a women's society for the maintenance of the furnishings of the synagogue and a Torah study fellowship. Until the middle of the 19th century, most Jews living in Zwartsluis worked as butchers or ritual slaughterers; by the end of the 19th century, most had come to work in the textile industry.
Under the World War II German occupation of the Netherlands, almost all of the Jews of Zwartsluis were deported and murdered; only a few managed to survive the war in hiding. Only one of the Jews deported from the town returned alive after the war. During the war, the Zwartsluis synagogue was used as a storage place for the contents of the houses of deported Jews.
The Jewish community at Zwartsluis was dissolved in 1948 and the locale was placed within the jurisdiction of the Jewish community at Zwolle. The former synagogue building was sold and converted into a carpenter's workplace. The building was razed in 1969. The old Jewish cemetery was cleared away however the Jewish cemetery on the Baanstraat still remains. It is currently maintained by the local authorities. A monument to the murdered Jews of Zwartsluis was erected in the cemetery in 1984. The building that once housed the Jewish school has been restored; it is marked with a plaque that commemorates it former function.
The Jewish population of Zwartsluis and surroundings:
The size of the Jewish community over time