Category Archives: Amsterdam

Amsterdam Jewish Historical Museum

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Location: Jonas Daniel Meijerplein 2-4, Amsterdam

Amsterdam has a rich Jewish history, which is represented by many of the sites that can be visited, such as the Anne Frank House, but if you are looking for a single location that can give you a sense of the history of Judaism in Amsterdam, then you must visit the Jewish Historical Museum.  The museum itself is located in one of the historical four Ashkenazi synagogues located in the center of the old Jewish quarter of the city.

The synagogues alone, built in the late 17th century, make the trip worthwhile, and have been fully restored to their condition before the World War II. The museum contains a permanent exhibit that details the role of the Jewish religion and traditions in Amsterdam, as well as life stories dealing with the persecution of Jews during the Second World War.

There are also a number of temporary exhibits, which cover all areas of Jewish religion and culture, including the Jewish arts, writing, and even the food.  There are also a number of exhibits that are specifically tailored for children that will help them to better understand the relevance and impact of Judaism in Amsterdam.

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The harmony of Amsterdam

When in Amsterdam, close your eyes and  you will see Rembrandt walking , pausing now and then to admire the miracle of a town which still preserves secret places and secret memories, a mixture of past and present. But what struck me the most the first time I went to Amsterdam was the harmony of proportions between  the size of the buildings and  the breadth of the canals and of the quays, and the trees along them.

The canals of Amsterdam creating avenues of water reminded me of St. Petersburg,  And  in my guidebook I found confirmation to this. Tsar Peter the Great was inspired by all this when planning St Petersburg. The design of the Russian town was entrusted to various architects (mostly Italian) and the resemblance is striking. My guide also pointed out  that  a painting by Berckheyde of 1685 shows the curve of the Herengracht, also known as ‘Golden Bend’ since it brought together the most luxurious and the most beautiful patrician residences and that walking around St Petersburg one is reminded of that old picture of the Herengracht.