Netherlands Restores Oldest Synagogue

Ceremonies were held this week to mark the completion of restoration work on the oldest synagogue in the Netherlands that is still use.

The synagogue of Middelburg, located in the capital of the southwestern Dutch province of Zeeland, was built in 1705 and currently serves a community of 31 Jews.

Because of the synagogue’s small size – it is only 33 by 30 feet – Tuesday’s ceremonies for some 350 invited guests were held in the city’s 17th century town hall.

The tiny synagogue is surrounded on all sides by houses and is only accessible by going through an alley between two of the houses. The synagogue was damaged by a British grenade during a World War II battle in the autumn of 1944.

Because of its small size, the Jewish community of Middelburg was unable to pay the restoration costs.

Instead, non-Jewish members of the community set up a foundation in 1987 to collect donations.

In addition to its’ use as a house of worship, the refurbished synagogue will serve as a cultural center and exhibition hall.

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