Holland’s largest Hebrew bookstore shutters doors

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — One of Western Europe’s largest Hebrew bookstores closed in Amsterdam as its former owners prepare to immigrate to Israel.

Samech, located in southern Amsterdam, has been supplying Hebrew-language books to members of Holland’s Jewish community for nearly 40 years and possessed a stock of 100,000 books, according to the website of the Dutch Israelite Religious Community, or NIK.

The store, which used to be the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, belonged to Daan and Shulamit Daniel, who are planning to move to Israel. All their children had already moved out of the Netherlands in favor of “places with richer Jewish lives than Amsterdam,” according to NIK.

The store’s entire stock was sold or given away last month, the NIK report said. Holland has a Jewish population of 41,000 to 45,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.

Immigration from Western Europe brought 3,243 new arrivals to Israel in 2012, an increase of 6 percent from the previous year. However, immigration from the Benelux area  — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — dropped that year by 26 percent to 209 new arrivals.

Samech used to service Holland’s outsized population of Israeli expats, estimated by the Dutch Jewish community to be approximately 10,000.

According to Dr. Yinon Cohen of Tel Aviv University, some 6,600 Israelis are living in France and fewer than 3,000 in total in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Britain has the largest population of Israeli expats in Europe, with 40,000 living in London alone, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

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