The Jewish communities of Eibergen

S. Laansma, De Joodse gemeente te Borculo
(Borculo, Eibergen, Groenlo, Lochem, Neede, Ruurlo).
H. Kooger, Het oude Volk-Kroniek van Joods leven in de Achterhoek, Liemers en het grensgebied.

We do not know when the first Jews came to Eibergen. As in Borculo, a residence permit and payment of the "tribute" were required to settle in Eibergen.
We know that in 1643 a Jew came to live in Eibergen: "The Jew in Eibergen, Samuel, has paid his tribute in August 1643, upon his arrival." It is likely that Samuel lived there with his family, but it is unknown from where he came. Presumably he was a merchant or a butcher. Between 1643 and 1647 he lived in Eibergen and, like the other Jews, he paid his yearly tribute of six guilders and brought a fat goose to His Glory of Borculo, who resided in the castle.

In 1646 Samuel received from Otto, the count of Limburg Stirum, a residence permit. In the meantime another Jew came to Eibergen, named Sander Josephs, who also paid his yearly tribute; the last payment was in 1660. Afterwards a confirmation states that the Jew from Eibergen paid tribute of six guilders in 1669.
Only in 1700 did we find clear traces of Jews in Eibergen. When the organ of the Protestant church had to be renewed, one of the donors was a Jew.
A few years later, in 1712, a guild book was opened for the tailoring trade. Jews were allowed to join the trade and become guild members.
"In … 1716 the Jew Joseph Hartog has come to an accord with the tailoring guild for a membership period of five years, against payment of half a barrel of beer, allowing him to sell his cloth as he sees fit."
There were other Jewish tailors who did not belong to the guild, which did not affect their living. Cloth could however not be sold without the involvement of the tailoring guild. Meyer the Jew had to pay a fine in 1731, because he had sold cloth "without reporting to the guild!"

At the same time there was also a Jew who converted to Christianity.
One Jew in Eibergen bought a house in 1797. He passed away at the ripe age of 102 years.
In 1810 25 Jews lived in Eibergen. In 1812 they were obliged to choose family names and were then registered under these new names, like van Gelder, Roosendaal, Koopman, Herts, Bachrach, Wolf, Kramer and Frank.
Most of the Jews were poor and were even unable to pay their duties to the Chief Rabbinate of Zwolle.

The synagogue
Till 1800 the Jews of Eibergen congregated in a house, which served as a home synagogue.There was then 33 Jews. The cantor was Abraham Hertzveld.
In 1847 the synagogue wardens sent a letter to the municipality, asking for a parcel of land to build a synagogue. The house where the community prayed was located in the garden of the veterinarian and was in a very bad condition.
The community requested a parcel of "two rods of den Hagen, located within Eybergen, near the garden of A. Simmelink," bordering on the Kerkenkamp.
In December 1847 the request was granted and shortly thereafter the building was started on the "Kleine Hagen," at the end of the Klungelsteeg. The masonry of the synagogue walls was one and a half stone.
The synagogue was inaugurated in August 1848 with the participation of more than 70 community members. In 1875 the community wanted to enlarge the synagogue, but the municipality refused to authorize their request. The same happened in 1898.
Only in 1900 was a renovation of the synagogue effected, and later on a classroom and a mikve were added. It is not known when these additions were actually made.

Regarding the synagogue no further known events remain to be mentioned. Not everybody went regularly to the services, but all children received Jewish education and the women visited the mikve, the ritual bath.
During the war the building was desecrated by the Germans, and afterwards very little could be saved. It was sold in 1952 and torn down in 1961. After the war most people moved to Borculo.

Jewish education
As mentioned before, services in 1812 were held in a home synagogue and the five Jewish children of Eibergen received their Jewish schooling there.
From 1813 till 1943 Eibergen had 24 cantors and several Jewish teachers. A teacher from Poland, named David Zion, remained there for 26 years. Most teachers however stayed for a short time only and then moved to other communities.
Not always everything went off smoothly. During two years (1864 and 1865) no Jewish lessons were given at all and after David Zion left, no substitute teacher was found till 1884.
In 1869 there were 14 pupils.
On Sundays the children received Jewish lessons from two until five o'clock in the afternoon. Jewish lessons were also given on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The lessons on Wednesday were optional.
However, during the last years before World War II, less and less people came to the synagogue and less children received Jewish schooling. After the war Jewish lessons were renewed on a smaller scale.

The cemetery
The land for the Jewish cemetery was, as far as known, presented to the Eibergen Jews by one of the Lords of Mallum. Already in 1824 the cemetery was nicknamed the "Jewish bump," because it was indeed located on a high place near the river Berkel, not far from the present Rekkense Binnenweg.
By decree of the Lord of Mallum the Jewish community of Eibergen became the official owner of the cemetery in 1845. One of the oldest graves dates from 1860.
Because the cemetery was situated near the river Berkel, there was a danger that the edge of the cemetery would be damaged by the water. In 1898 a petition was filed, requesting a permit to sink poles into the ground near the edge in order to avoid any possible damage. In 1900 this request was granted.
In the cemetery there was a metaher house with a text from Isaiah (chapter 26, v.19) "Thy dead shall live; with my dead body shall they arise."
In 1914 the chairman of the community was asked by the authorities to renounce a strip of the cemetery in order to widen the river Berkel. It is not clear whether the community agreed. Nowadays the Jewish cemetery of Eibergen, with 53 tomb stones, is maintained by the municipality.

Societies and regulations
Eibergen had two societies, about which not much is known. "Ateres Bachoeriem," founded in 1884, assisted the poor and the ill or dying people.
The women society "Bigdei Koudesj," meaning the "Holy Cloth," was founded to take care of the interior of the synagogue.
Regulations of the Jewish community Eibergen certainly did exist, but we information on this point could not be retrieved.

Means of living
Between 1747 and 1760 the Jews of Eibergen practiced several professions, but mostly they were merchants or butchers. There also were a few peddlers who had to pay the peddler tax, or a fine, in case they did not follow regulations. There was a glazier and a house painter. One of the Jews delivered windows for the school. And there was a rags merchant. When in 1794 troops from England and Hannover invaded Eibergen, some Jews functioned as interpreters.
One merchant was named Kieuwe Zion (Jules), born in Poland in 1838. In 1868 he rented a house, known as "the Reddingsboot," which actually was a textiles shop. Business was good. After 1880 the shop was several times expanded. In 1928 a new department store was opened, which became the largest department store of Eastern Gelderland.
The war put an end to all this. After the war the store was opened again, and in 1973 it was sold and continued under another name.

Jewish inhabitants in Eibergen

Jewish population
1797 33
1809 16
1840 52
1869 84
1899 100
1930 42

16 Jews from Eibergen were deported and subsequently murdered during the Second World War.
17 Jews went into hiding.

Extracted from sources:Yael Benlev-de Jong
Translated from Dutch:Mechel Jamenfeld
Editing:Ben Noach
Final editing:Hanneke Noach

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