Jewish Antwerp, A Shtetl in Belgium
Further References (limited, since there is much more):



  • VAN ACKER J., ´Antwerpen – van Romeins veer tot wereldhaven´, Antwerpen , Mercurius, 1975, 448p.
  • CAESTECKER F., ´Alien Policy in Belgium, 1840-1940 – The Creation of Guest Workers, Refugees and Illegal Aliens´, New York, Berghahn Books, 2000, 330p.
  • SCHMIDT E., ‘Geschiedenis van de Joden in Antwerpen in woord en beeld’, Antwerpen , C. De VriesBrouwers, 1994, 354p.
  • BRACHFELD S., ´Het grote Brabosh memorboek – twee eeuwen Joodse aanwezigheid in Vlaanderen / Antwerpen´, Instituut voor het Onderzoek van het Belgisch Jodendom, 2012, 799p.
  • MICHMAN D. (Ed.), ´Belgium and the Holocaust´, Jerusalem , Yad Vashem, 2007, 593p.
  • VANDEN DAELEN V. , ´Laten we hun lied verder zingen – De heropbouw van de joodse gemeenschap in Antwerpen na de Tweede Wereldoorlog (1944-1960)´, Amsterdam, Aksant, 2008, 512p.
  • DÉOM J´., ´Les Juifs en Belgique – Guide Bibliographique´, Foundation of Contemporary Memory, 2014, 196p. (should be online in the near future, see: www.fmc-seh.be)
  • AMARA M., ´Inventaire des archives du SPF Justice, Service des Cultes et de la Laïcité : Dossiers du Culte israélite 1830-2010´, Brussels, Archives Générales Du Royaume, 2013, 24p. (also available for free, via http://webshop.arch.be)
  • DESMET G., ´Judaism and Jewish population in Belgium, 1795 – today. An archives guide´, Brussels, Générales Du Royaume, 2015?, (work in progress, see for more information: http://arch.arch.be/index.php?l=nl&m=lopend-onderzoek&r=onderzoeksprojecten&pr=het-jodendomen-de-joodse-bevolking-in-belgie-1795-heden.-een-archiefgids)


Timeline (consider this as a work in progress, see also gershon-lehrer.be/timeline):

1275 Leuven possessed the oldest synagogue in Belgium between 1275 and 1311
1286 First time a Jewish Antwerp inhabitant is mentioned (Daniel Judeus, originating from Cologne)
1350 Jews were killed by the Duke of Brabant (Jan II) as scapegoats for the Black Death
1370 Jews were burned on the stake after they were accused of desecrating sacramental bread and the remaining Jews were expelled from the Duchy of Brabant
1406 The first mikvah in the country was located in Brussels, in the year 1406, which was maintained by the daughter of the Jew Hadzin
1410 The appointment of mayors since 1410 in Antwerp, was a fresh attack on the authority of the dukes and a new addition to the urban liberties.
1512 Probably first Conversos arrived then (from Portugal or Bruges)
1515 Daniel Van Bomberghe, a non-Jew originally from Antwerp, opens the first Hebrew printer in Venice.
1568 Christoffel Plantin printed his masterwork; the Biblia Polyglotta, a multilingual Bible, consisting of five languages (Hebrew, Greek, Chaldean, Syriac, Latin)
1654 A first attempt to request permission to build a Synagogue in Borgerhout (then bordering on Antwerp), was refused by the Spanish King
1672 Another attempt to establish a synagogue, this time in Vilvoorde, was refused
1692 Jewish synagogue-goers were caught red-handed in the house of Querido Coucher by the Catholic and city representatives
1756 Number of identified Jews in Belgium: 76 individuals (26 men, 28 women, 32 children)
1778 The Chida (Rav Ch. J. D. Asulai) visited Antwerp during his fundraising trip for the “Yeshiva Knesset Israel” in Chevron
1781 Visit of Emperor Joseph II in Antwerp
1810 According to a report, the French administrative department Deux-Nèthes with Antwerp as its capital, had 49 Jews among its citizens.
1815 Dutch rule under King William I
1815 A general crisis on economic level, before an economic boom began
1816 Legal recognition of the Antwerp Jewish community by the authorities
1816 There were in Antwerp 36 to 38 Jewish families
1817 Mr. Kreyn got the permission from the authorities to organize a shul in his house, that consent was valid for ten years.
1828 The Jews of Antwerp received their first plot at the municipal cemetery of Kiel (in Antwerp)
1830 Belgium obtains its independence
1832 Foundation of the Consistoire des Israélites en Belgique, later changed to Consistoire Central des Israélites en Belgique
1832 First appointed chief rabbi in Belgium; Dr. Eliakim Carmoly
1832 The first public synagogue in Antwerp becomes operational on the Paardenmarkt no. 83
1832 Banker Jonathan Raphael Bischoffsheim, a well-known philanthropist and politician, became the first president of the Antwerp Jewish community
1834 Dr. Eliakim Carmoly resigns as Chief Rabbi of Belgium
1834 Dr. Henry Loeb is the Chief Rabbi of Belgium
1846 The Antwerp Jewish community moved her synagogue from the Paardenmarkt to the former chapel on the Grote Pieter Potstraat .
1867 There lived in Antwerp an estimated number of between 800 and 1,000 Jews .
1883 Foundation of the ´Adass Jeschurun´ Orthodox community, under the leadership of Rabbi Noch Zvi Ullman
1884 Foundation of the foundation ´Nederlandse Israelitische Begrafenisvereniging Antwerpen´ in Putte (The Netherlands) led by Henri Frechie. This foundation´s goals was in order the finance burials of its members (who were mostly burried at the municipal cemetery of Antwerp). After the dead of chairman Henri Frechie, the foundation was renamed to bear his name.
1892 The ´Adass Jeschurun´ changed its name to ´Communauté Israélite du Rite Russo-Polonais ´Machsiké Hadass´ (today known as the ´Machsiké Hadass) .
1893 Inauguration of the ´Dutch´ Synagogue in the Bouwmeesterstraat
1898 Foundation of Portuguese Kehillah ´Synagogue Israélite du Rite Portugais´ under the leadership of their first Rabbi, Rabbi Haim Misrahi
1908 Frechie purchased land in order to use as a cemetery.
1909 An estimated number of 18.000 Jews lived in Antwerp
1910 Machsike Hadass owns its own cemetery
1910 The Machsiké Hadass was officially recognized by the official authorities
1912 The Machsiké Hadass opened its Mikvah in the Lamorinièrestraat no. 60., this ritual bath was in use until 1942
1912 Rabbi M. Rottenberg from Wadowitz (Poland) became Rabbi N. Z. Ullman´s successor
1913 Inauguration of the Portuguese Synagogue (Beth Moshe) on the Hoveniersstraat no. 39.
1916 Rabbi N. Z, Ullman passed away in Scheveningen (The Netherlands) in 1916 (during WWI)
1918 Delayed (due to WWI) inauguration of the main synagogue of the Machsiké Hadass on the Oostenstraat.
1920 Shomre Hadass, who bought land before 1914 in order to use as a cemetery, started to use it in 1920 when they transferred graves from the municipal cemetery of Kiel to Putte
1920 Foundation of the ´Schomré Hadass´ Kehillah with at its Rabbi, Rabbi M. A. Amiel from Grajow (Lithuania), based on the Bouwmeesterstraat.
1931 Dr. Joseph Wiener was appointed as Chief Rabbi of Belgium
1931 Merge of the official Antwerp Israelite Kehillah and the Schomré Hadass into one Kehillah
1935 Foundation of the Mikvah of the Schomré Hadass in the Van Diepenbeekstraat no. 42
1936 Rav M. A. Amiel from the Schomré Hadass resigned in order to become the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv where he passed away in 1945
1945 The Jewish Brigade stationed in Antwerp. Jewish life starts slowly again in Antwerp
1945 The two most important communities of Antwerp (Machsike Hadas and Shomre Hadass) merge into one United Kehille (Verenigde Israëlitsiche gemeenten). After 13 years the partnership dissolved back into two separate kehillos
1950 Establishment by industrials and Belgian merchants of the Chamber of Commerce for BelgiumLuxembourg-Israel (Kamer van Koophandel België-Luxemburg-Israël)
1952 European conference in Antwerp of the ‘Macabi World Union’
1953 Foundation of Bnai Brith in Antwerp (‘Genootschap B’nai Brith, Antwerpen’ in 1993 the name was changed to ‘loge Mala Zimetbaum’)
1955 The Antwerp branch of Maccabi was was promoted to the royal name ‘Koninklijke Sportclub Maccabi’
1954 Inauguration of the restored synagogue from the Shomre Hadass in the Van de Nestlei synagogue.
1956 Inauguration of the old age home ‘Joodse Rusthuis voor Bejaarden met Kliniek’ on the Marialei(street) which was founded by the Centrale (‘Centraal Beheer van Joodse Weldadigheid en Maatschappelijk Hulpbetoon’)
1958 Inauguration of the restored main synagogue on the Bouwmeesterstraat, also known as the ‘Hollandse Sjoel’ (=the Dutch Synagogue)
1958 Visit of the Israeli president Ben Zwi with his wife on the occasion of the World Expo where Israel had a pavilion. He was received by then prince Albert (later king Albert II) with a guard of honor. Later on the day they visited Breendonk where Mrs. Ben Zwi laid a wreath. Shabbat morning President Ben Zwi attended the morning service in the Romi Goldmuntz synagogue where he received the maftir. Sunday he was received by government officials
1958 The United Kehillahs (Verenigde Israëlitsiche gemeenten). After 13 years the partnership dissolved back to two kehillos.
1958 The representative of the king visited the synagogue at the inauguration of the synagogue Van de Nestlei which was restored with the help of Mr. Romi Goldmuntz; Since then the synagogue’s is officially called Romi Goldmuntz
1966 The ‘Belgisch Staatsblad’ (Belgian Official Gazette) announced the twinning of the Belgian port city Antwerp with the Israeli port city Haifa.
1967 In the end of May/beginning of June, rising war tensions in Israel. On June 4th, 1967 (one day before the start of the war), a group of 21 Antwerp Jewish youngsters flew from Belgium with an Air France via Tokyo to Tel Aviv. This was to be the first group with European volunteers to land before the start of the war in which 7 countries fought against one. The war ended after 6 days with the Israeli winning victory.
1971 A group of 30 Jewish youngsters held a hunger strike on the Groenplaats (a square) in the city centre of Antwerp to attract attention towards the discriminatory policy of the Soviet Union of its Jews.
1977 European conference of the Agudath Israel in Antwerp
1979 Inauguration of the Monument in Anderlecht. The monument consist among other of walls with 23838 names of murdered Belgian Jews who got deported from the Dossin-Kazerne in Mechelen to their deaths
1980 Youngsters who were preparing to board a bus in the Lamorinièrestraat 61 to get to a camp led by the Agudath Yisroel in the Ardennes, were attacked by a young Arab who threw two grenades. A few youngsters were seriously wounded and the 15-year old David Kohane Hy”d from Paris, was mortally wounded. The murdered was caught. He received lifelong imprisonment but was freed in 1992.
1980 Event in Vorst-Nationaal to honor the saviors of Belgian Jews during the Second World War
1981 A bomb exploded in the Hoveniersstraat. Target was the Diamond Business district which usually is packed with Jews. Since it was the Sukkoth holiday, the streets were much less crowded as usual. Three victims got killed.
1985 Inauguration of the synagogue on the National Airport of Belgium (Zaventem)
1993 Foundation of the new Mikvah of the Schomré Hadass in the Provinciestraat .
Check www.gershon-lehrer.be/timeline for more