Second stop, Jewish Historical Museum*.
It is housed in a complex of four historical Ashkenazi synagogues. This museum focuses on Jewish history, religion and culture from past to present.
The main exhibition on the ground floor introduces the Jewish religion, traditions and customs. There are many Jewish ceremonial items on display, shown in locations where they used to be placed in the synagogue. Check out the bimah, the podium in the center of the room where the Torah scroll is read. Watch films highlighting annual festivals, learn about bat mitzvah, marriage and Shabbat. Look at scrolls, images, texts, publications, etc. and overwhelmed yourself.
Check this I clip about this ground floor exhibition: https://youtu.be/9Qz940xJUfU
One floor up, the second part of the exhibition presents the history of Jews in the Netherlands between 1600 and 1900. It commences with how the Jews arrived in the Dutch Republic and settled in Amsterdam. It explains what the Jews did to adjust, make a living and the difficulties they faced. The museum recognizes historic Jewish personalities such as Baruch Spinoza, Sjabtai Tsvi and others. Events are depicted in a chronological order with colossal exhibit of paintings, letters and treasures.
Continuing further into another gallery is the last section about the history of Jews in the Netherlands from 1900 – The Present Day. The exhibition boasts wide screen films projected on the walls, more photographs, documents and personal items from three periods; before, during and after the war. Most explanations are provided via touchscreen interactive media. A welcome change from squinting my eyes reading.
According to the website, the Jewish Historical Museum has a collection of 61,000 art objects, ceremonial and historical objects, but only some five per cent is on display at any one time. It took me more than 2 hours going through the above 3 sections casually. The personal life stories were very touching and certainly gave me insight into the Jewish way of life. Visit the museum’s kosher café for a quick break before moving on to temporary exhibitions.
A well curated museum!
Opening hours: Everyday 11am -5pm
Free audio tour provided & explanation in English.
*Jewish Cultural Quarter includes Portuguese Synagogue, Jewish Historical Museum (with a separate Children’s Museum) and National Holocaust Memorial. It has a joint ticket system whereby you can visit all the above museums once, within one month period for €15.00 total. Make sure you keep your ticket(s) safe.
PS: I skipped the Children’s Museum as I was without my kids during this visit.