Jews settled in Leerdam as early as the seventeenth century. From 120 on, the local lending bank was leased by Jews a number of times. The Jewish population of Leerdam grew as the eighteenth century progressed. New arrivals included Jews from the town of Middelburg.Postcard of the Jewish cemetery in Leerdam, ca. 1964

In its early years, the Leerdam community prayed in a rented hall. In 1827, the community constructed a synagogue of its own, located in the Nieuwstraat. The building served the community until 1854, when it was replaced by a new synagogue that remained it service until 1935.

The Jewish community of Leerdam made use of several cemeteries over the course of its history. Seventeenth century sources refer to the presence of a "Jodenkerckhoff" (Jews' Cemetery) in Leerdam but do not specify a location. Beginning in 1767, the Jews of Leerdam buried their dead at a cemetery located near the Hoogpoort. In 1832, the community purchased a section of Leerdam's public cemetery. In 1845, the Leerdam community purchased land for a new cemetery on the Lingedijk following the rejection of their application to expand the Jewish section of the non-confessional cemetery. The Lingedijk cemetery is still in existence; the two older ones were cleared away during the 1960's. The remains of a small, privately-owned Jewish cemetery still can be found in the village of Asperen, just outside of Leerdam. The cemetery, located on the Appeldijkje, contains seven gravestones from the years 1870 to 1911. Today, the Lingedijk cemetery is maintained by the municipality of Leerdam and the Asperen cemetery by the municipality of Lingewaal.

The Jews of Leerdam worked as cattle dealers, butchers, watchmakers, silversmiths, and traders in furniture, textiles, and rags. The community maintained a number of religious, social, and welfare organizations both for men and for women. The community also retained a teacher to provide religious instruction to its children and inaugurated a new religious school in 1907. During the twentieth century, as the Jewish population of Leerdam fell, Jewish life in the town slowly faded away. By 1934, the Leerdam community applied to the central consistory of Dutch Jewry for permission to dissolve itself and be absorbed into the Jewish community of Gorinchem. Permission was granted.

Jewish population of Leerdam (including Asperen and Heukelum):

1809 69
1840 50
1869 56
1899 58
1930 16


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