The Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue
The Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue of Amsterdam, also called Esnoga (Hebrew: אסנוגה ) or simply called Snoge, is a synagogue from the 17th century that was built by the Sephardic Jews. The synagogue is on the Mr. Visserplein and Jonas Daniël Meijerplein in the former Jewish quarter of Amsterdam. When it was built, it was the largest synagogue in the world. The colossal building dominated the area and still does.
large synagogue complex
De Snoge is part of a large synagogue complex. Only the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue still fulfills its original function. The Grote Sjoel now forms the Jewish Historical Museum together with the Obbene Sjoel (1685), the Dritt Sjoel (1700) and the Neie Sjoel (1750/1752). The interior of the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue, unlike that of the High German synagogues, has been preserved, including the copper candle crowns and holders, and dates entirely from the construction period, which is extremely rare.
The first Jews to settle in Amsterdam since the end of the 16th century came from Spain and Portugal. Initially, these Sephardim were not allowed to profess their religion in public. In 1639 the Portuguese Jews built a synagogue for the first time on Houtgracht (now Waterlooplein) that was clearly visible from the street, ending the period of invisible house synagogues. It will certainly have played a role that the Portuguese Jews with their trade contacts with the countries around the Mediterranean made an important contribution to the Amsterdam Golden Age.
In the second half of the 17th century the Jews were allowed to build synagogues in striking places (while at the same time Catholics were still forbidden to build churches that were recognizable as such from the street; see for example Our Lord in Zolder from 1661-1663).
The Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue was built on the site where until the city expansion of 1663 the Second "Sint Antoniespoort" stood on the Sint Antoniesdijk. The synagogue did not get a cemetery in the immediate vicinity; Beth Haim served as a cemetery in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel.
The design was by Elias Bouman, who had acted as contractor for the construction of the Grote Sjoel (1670/71) of the High German municipality on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, next to it (attributed to city architect Daniël Stalpaert). The disaster year (1672) and a severe hurricane delayed construction, so that the dedication ceremonies did not take place until 10 Av 5435 (2 August 1675), which, following the consecration of the temple in Jerusalem, lasted eight days.
High German Jewish Congregation
The High German Jewish community in Amsterdam was founded in 1635 and grew rapidly due to the influx of Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. As a result, it was decided in 1670 to build a private prayer house on Deventer Houtmarkt, now Jonas Daniël Meijerplein. This synagogue was built by Elias Bouman, who later also built the Portuguese-Israelite Synagogue and the House De Pinto.
typical of the Dutch tolerant attitude.
The architectural style is influenced by the work of the Amsterdam city architect Daniël Stalpaert. The building cost 33,000 guilders, partly funded by a loan of 16,000 that the city of Amsterdam provided to the High German municipality, partly by selling seats.
These tickets were transferable and inheritable pieces. The building was inaugurated on March 25, 1671, the first day of Pesach. The fact that the building could be built so strikingly on public roads was a rarity in 17th-century Europe and is explained as typical of the Dutch tolerant attitude.
This High German Synagogue soon proved much too small for the ever-growing municipality. Therefore, three other synagogues were built in addition to the shul: the Obbene Shul (1685), Dritt Shul (1700) and New Synagogue (1752).
The original shul was named Great Synagogue as the main synagogue of this complex. This name is somewhat misleading because it is not the largest of the four synagogues in terms of surface area; the New Synagogue eventually became larger than the Great Synagogue.
The Great Synagogue was rebuilt and expanded several times. The corner house was enlarged in 1776-1777. A porch was also laid on Nieuwe Amstelstraat and iron stained glass windows were installed. The current entrance was built in 1822-1823 in neoclassical style. In 1911-1913 a concrete floor was laid, a singers' balcony was installed above the gallery on the Nieuwe Amstelstraat side and stained-glass windows were placed in the east wall. The Great Synagogue was the seat of the Supreme Rabbi, and in that synagogue the Supreme Lecturer, assisted by the choir, led the prayer services.
In September 1943, during the Second World War, the synagogue was closed by order of the German occupiers. In the hunger winter of 1944-1945 all galleries were demolished to use as firewood.
The building, which had lost its function as a result of the Germans being carried away by the Jews, was transferred to the municipality of Amsterdam in 1954 and thoroughly restored in 1966 and brought back to the situation of 1822.
Jewish Historical Museum
After a renovation of the Great Synagogue and the three other High German synagogues, they were put into use by the Jewish Historical Museum in 1987. Since 2004 a permanent exhibition on Jewish traditions and customs has been on the ground floor of the Great Synagogue, and the galleries have been used for a permanent exhibition on the history of the Jews in the Netherlands from 1600 to 1890. The Great Synagogue is sometimes also used for music concerts.