(JTA) — A mikvah uncovered during construction will be restored in a museum as the oldest testament to Jewish life in Holland to date.
The Jewish ritual bath will be restored this week in the Limburgs Museum in the city of Venlo, the same southeastern Netherlands city in which it was uncovered several years ago.
The mikvah dates to the13th century, more than 300 years before it was believed that the first significant Jewish community in Holland was created by Jews who fled the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal, during the late 16th century.
"This mikvah proves there was a Jewish presence in Holland more than 700 years ago and proves that although the Jewish community may have been small, they had a mikvah, a testament to a flourishing and dedicated community," said Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, the chairman of the Rabbinical Council for Netherlands and a member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.
According to archeologists, the mikvah was in use for several decades before it was put to other uses. It is believed that the Jews were driven out of the area in the wake of a deathly plague.
The mikvah, weighing approximately 180 tons, will be placed in a newly constructed wing of the museum created especially for the purpose of displaying the mikvah and educating about it and Judaism, according to the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.