Friday, 25 November 2011

Amsterdam Jews, 1701

A description of the Jewish Amsterdam community in 1701. One members seems to have more money than taste.

The Jews, who are very considerable for the Trade of this City, have Two Synagogues, one of which is the largest in Christendom, and as some say, in the World. Within their CourtYard where there Synagogue stands, they have seveial Rooms or Schools, where their Children are taught Hebrew, and carefully instructed in the Jewish Principles.


When you have visited the Arsenals, if you have not a mind to keep along by the Port, you must cross the Jews Quarter, which would be one of the most Beautiful in the City, were those Disciples of Moses as neat as the Hollanders. There are two Synagogues, one for the Greeks and German Jews, another for the Portugueses. This is much the fairer, being built in a great Square, cover'd with a Duomo, and resembles rather a Citadel then a Jewish Temple; So that when the Jews built it so high, and so thick, the Magistracy began to grow jealous, afraid, lest under the pretence of a Temple they were building a Fortress, that might one day trouble the repose of the City; and out of this fear it was, that the Jews were commanded to go no further ; so that they were forc'd to cover it, before the Structure was brought to its intended Perfection; and this is the only reason of the Defects which the Architects observe in the Building.
AS to what remains, I make no scruple to affirm that there are Jews in Amsterdam far richer than some of our European Princes. There was one who built a House where nothing but Gold and Silver, Azure and Marble glitter'd on every side; there was one great Room pav'd with Silver Ducatoons: and he would have put Silver Bars in the Window of a lower Apartment that look'd into the Street, whereas Iron ones content all the rest of the City ; but the Magistracy no less Wise then Politick, considering that the Jews in general are not belov'd by the Christians, and fearing lest the multitude might take an occasion from this piece of Vanity to plunder his House, and the Houses of his Country-men, forbid him to do it: so that instead of Silver Grates, he put up Iron Gilt.

Page 78

Source: A new description of Holland, and the rest of the United Provinces. 1701

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