Amsterdam is justly proud of its long-standing reputation for tolerance and with Ashkenazi Jews finding refuge in its borders throughout the 17th century, Jewish traditions have played an important part in the city’s heritage.
To honor this, the award-winning Joods Historisch Museum (Jewish Historical Museum) opened in the 1930s, and despite being shut down during the Nazi occupation of WWII, reopened in 1955. Its present location sprawls throughout the 17th-century buildings of 4 Ashkenazi synagogues on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein; as impressive outside as it is inside. Today, it remains the country’s only dedicated Jewish museum, exploring the history, culture and religion that have shaped so much of its population.
A vast collection of artwork, short films and photography accompanies the three permanent exhibitions, which showcase over 11,000 objects and focus on ‘Jewish traditions and customs’, the ‘history of Jews in the Netherlands’ and the harrowing tales and written testimonies of persecution under Nazi rule.
The modern museum also puts a twist on the storytelling in the adorning ‘JHM Children’s Museum’, where all ages are welcome to take part in Jewish-themed activities – if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to bake matzo, play traditional Jewish music or write in Hebrew, this is the place to learn. There’s even a café onsite, where you can recover from the day’s explorations – all kosher, of course.