Welcome on the website of the Stichting Alkmaarse Synagogue (SAS) / Alkmaar Synagogue Foundation. The Alkmaar Synagogue Foundation came into being on July 2, 1997. It sets out to return the edifice of the former synagogue of the Dutch city of Alkmaar to a regional Jewish cultural destination. I invite you to learn about our activities and history. With best regards, and – who knows! – until we may meet in the restored Alkmaar Shul
chairperson of the board of the SAS
Newsletters from the board
14 november 2011 / 17 Cheshvan 5772
Dear friends of the Alkmaar Synagogue,
For good reason, we are delighted to update you on the Alkmaar Synagogue. If you have followed the images on our website you will have noticed the advances in the refurbishing of the shul, presently nearing their completion.
So - very soon, December 15th, 2011, the official (invitational) opening of the synagogue will take place! The hall of the shul will house a monument commemorating the Alkmaar Jews who perished in the shoah. Adjacent to the shul a new multifunctional construction will provide a place for Kiddush and sukkah as well as for other activities of a cultural/educational nature. Its ground floor will be named after the late Abraham de Wolff (1878-1943), the last Alkmaar rabbi, and its first floor after the late Bertha Noach (1878-1943), his wife.
The adjoining former rabbi house and Jewish school will be turned into modern habitations, but will retain their original exteriors. The mikveh has been salvaged and will remain visible to the public.
Click Upcoming Events for fuller information on the 5 day celebratory program, part of which will be open to the general public.
January 2010 / 15 Tevet 5770
Dear friends of the Alkmaar Synagogue,
You’ve been waiting for a long time to read our news – because important consultations were underway… that recently have yielded a wonderful result: On December 23 rd , 2009, the SAS has finally, after twelve years of often laborious striving, acquired the Alkmaar Synagogue!
In the course of an impressive meeting in no less a setting than that of the Shul building itself, the latter was transferred to us, by virtue of a tripartite agreement between the Alkmaar Baptist Community, the SAS and Housing Corporation Van Alckmaer – and by virtue also, of substantial grants from several sources.
It should be added that we had to compromise. The Housing Corporation, whose commitment made the joyous outcome possible, evidently has to build houses - it has to put part of the compound to such use. Therefore, although the former rabbi house and cheider will be restored, they will be converted into apartments.
Much will be done in return, however. The Corporation will also restore the Shul, and it will build a ‘multifunctional space’ in the courtyard, to be let to the SAS. The mikvah will become visible under a glass plate, and there will be a small communal garden.
As of the returning – after 67 years - of the Shul building into Jewish hands, new tasks await the SAS. The interior must be restored into that of a synagogue. In addition, the wider goal of the SAS – to provide for a regional Jewish cultural centre – has to be met.
We expect to take up these challenges during the second half of 2010 – by then the Baptists will have moved to their new church, the Shul will have been restored, and the multifunctional space will have been completed.
What do we presently have in mind? As for the synagogue: religious services, of course; a memorial for the murdered Alkmaar Jews; appropriate secular activities, e.g. concerts. As for the multifunctional space: educational use – Jewish studies in the widest sense, museum function, (multimedia)library, information on anti-Semitism and racism; a place for kiddush, Jewish holidays & meals; offering it for use to other, Jewish and non-Jewish initiatives of a social and/or cultural nature.
We are hoping for many of you to participate in the shaping of these various activities. Already, we’d welcome your suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanking you for your material support, we may add: it remains very welcome too.
Apart from the by now familiar possibility option of adopting Shul stones for € 25 apiece, this now also applies to a Shul chair for € 100 (IBAN: NL46ING0007778010 // BIC: INGBNL2A).
And: if we do not have your email address yet, would you be willing to supply it, to save costs?
With friendly greetings and best wishes for the new year of the common era, the first year in which we may have the pleasure of welcoming you to the regained synagogue,
Alkmaar Synagogue Foundation
(translation from the Dutch)
‘I am delighted that, after 67 years, the synagogue [building] regains its Jewish destination.’
On July, 2 nd , 1997, the Alkmaar Synagogue Foundation came into being… The beginning phase saw many consultations with the Baptists, to convince them that this house [in which they had their church] had been a Jewish house and should, eventually, once more become a Jewish house. (In a later phase, the problem of finding good substitute housing for the Baptists was predominant.)
Acquiring notoriety, talking to provincial and local authorities, etc., etc…. Meeting again and again, ever keeping good hopes for a good outcome…
‘And finally it succeeded [..] – “he or she is no realist that does not believe in miracles”.’
Miracle: round about the very days of past Hanukah [the holiday commemorating… another renewal - that of the Second Temple at Jerusalem – and the miracle of those days: that a tiny bit of oil, the dose for one day, kept the Menorah burning for eight days] we were able to sign for the purchase of the Shul building…
‘But let me also take you back, for a moment, to March 4 th , 1942. The last meeting of the Jewish Alkmaarders in this synagogue. After the service they go home for the last time. And that same night Rabbi De Wolff tries to bring his Jewish books into safety. He puts the Books of Prayer, the Talmud, the Tenachs and the Thora scrolls in his wheelbarrow and deposits them somewhere in this neighbourhood. Where they have got to we do not know, that remains a mystery.
But what we do know, and only too well, is that on the very next day the entire Jewish population of Alkmaar was deported [to Amsterdam, from there to Westerbork, and eventually] to the annihilation camps. And I want to give the people who didn’t return a commemoration site in this Shul [..]. For as long as we commemorate them, they will live on. We ought to never forget them’.
Hereafter Loes outlined the intentions regarding the renewed synagogue and the “multifunctional space”.
She thanked the (former) members of the SAS board of directors for their efforts. In particular, she mentioned SAS advisor Robert Israël and Luuk Hageman, vice president of Housing Corporation Van Alckmaer. She expressed her gratitude to the providers of grants. And she didn’t forget the friends of the SAS.
‘Finally, let me express the wish that it will become a fine Jewish house of learning, from generation to generation, Omeyn.’
In 2004, at the commemoration of 400 years of Jewish settlement in Alkmaar, the SAS oversaw the publication of a memoir by Sal de Wolff, survivor of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp and son of Abraham de Wolff, the last rabbi of Alkmaar (1878-1943), and of Bertha Noach (1878-1943).
The book starts out with vivid sketches of life in and around the little house of the rabbi, adjacent to the Shul; of the neighborhood and Jewish community; of the author’s parents; of his school time days; of the menacing atmosphere of the crisis ridden 1930s with war and persecution looming. It then continues with incisive description of events during the war: attempts of the author and his wife to escape the Nazis; experiences in camp Westerbork in the east of the Netherlands, whence the deportations, almost all of them to extermination camps, took place; experiences in Bergen-Belsen and during further deportation in the course of which the author’s baby daughter died; the belated repatriation from Soviet occupied territory; the mostly bitter and mournful – parents, two sisters, and other relatives and friends murdered - experiences back in Holland; the author’s aliyah and start of a new life in Israel in 1948 amidst the war of independence.
The book can be ordered by email – email@example.com (mention ‘Book De Wolff’) for 15 euro + shipping costs. Please note that it is in Dutch.
400 years Jewish settlement in Alkmaar