The presence of Jews in Almelo dates to the seventeenth century. The community grew throughout the course of the eighteenth century. During the 1720's, the male Jewish population of Almelo numbered less than ten but, by the end of the century, Almelo was home to what was by Dutch standards a mid-sized Jewish community. The Jewish population of Almelo continued to grow throughout the nineteenth century and reached its zenith at the beginning of the twentieth.

Jewish farmers in Vriezenveen, preparing for Shabbat, 1930Almelo's first synagogue was located in the neighborhood called De Bodden. The exact date of its founding is unknown but we do know that the synagogue was in use prior to 1803. By the mid-nineteenth century, the community had outgrown the building and opened a new synagogue in the Schalderoistraat. The community's first cemetery, located in a field called the Sluitersveld along the Kerkhofweg (Cemetery Way), was in use prior to 1775. The cemetery on the Boddenstraat was founded in 1846.

Jews played an important role in the development of industry and commerce in and around Almelo. The Salomonson, Bendien, and Hedemann families played important roles in the development of the textile industry in Almelo and in the development of the Koninklijke Stoomweverij (Royal Steam Looms) factory in nearby Nijverdal.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the Jewish community of Almelo established a learned society that attracted many Jews from the immediate surrounding. Little else, however, is known about Jewish education in Almelo at the time.

In 1855 the Jews of Almelo established a charitable organization to help provide for the community's significant number of poor people. Support for needy Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe was provided through a separate organization founded in 1900. The Jews of Almelo also founded and maintained numerous social, cultural, and service clubs. Several Zionist organizations arose during the 1930s. These included Zionist Pioneer groups that maintained close contact with Pioneers training at the agricultural college at nearby Deventer.

Synagogue in Almelo, ca. 1938 (RDMZ)During the German occupation of the Netherlands in the Second World War the same measures were applied against Jews in Deventer as elsewhere in the Netherlands. In 1941, Jewish children were excluded from public education and a separate Jewish school established. The school remained open through the height of deportations in February, 1943.

The majority of the Jews of Almelo were shipped to concentration camps and murdered. Only the synagogue and its Torah scrolls and accoutrements survived the war untouched. After the War, the Jewish community of Almelo was established anew. It remains active since.

On November 2, 1980, a new synagogue was inaugurated on the Kerkplein. The interior of the new synagogue contains much of the interior furnishings of the old synagogue on the Schalderoistraat. In April, 1999, the new synagogue was renamed in honor of Aron Haas, the driving force behind the post-war reconstruction of the Jewish community of Almelo. This Aron Haas Synagogue, which is not in use anymore, serves as a day care for the elderly since 2013.
In May, 2000, renovation of the cemetery on the Boddenstraat, including its house for ritual preparation of the dead, was completed. In December 2004 a plaque with the names of all Apeldoorn Jews who didn't survive the war was unveiled at the cemetery.

A monument to the memory of the Jews of Almelo murdered during the Second World War, designed by Altiene Lusseveld was unveiled in the garden adjacent to Almelo's city hall in December 2004.

The Jewish community of Almelo also included that of the nearby village of Vriezenveen. At the beginning of the 19th century ten Jewish families resided in Vriezenveen, ensuring an adult male population sufficient for holding synagogue services. From 1880 until 1920, Vriezenveen boasted its own synagogue, located on the Almeloseweg. The former synagogue building now serves as a warehouse. The Stichting Behoud Synagoge Vriezenveen (Society for the Preservation of the Vriezenveen Synagogue) currently is lobbying for its restoration. During the nineteenth and twentieth Jews also resided in the nearby village of Wierden but were not organized into a separate community of their own.

Jewish population of Almelo and surroundings:

1722 7
1809 120
1849 284
1868 468
1899 521
1930 443
1951 106
1971 65
1998 36


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