• menu▼        
  • contact us

  • The Jewish Community of Rijssen

    The main names mentioned in the article, in order of appearance:
    Samuel Arons, Emanuel Salomons, Helena Poppers, Salomon Israel, Izack Salomons, Elisabeth Joseph, Levi Emanuel (Goudsmit), Manuel Levi, Salomon Davids, Magdalena Abrahams, Joseph Salomons, Hartog Abrahams (=Hartog Arons), Abrahams Izaak, Eva Salomons Fles,Sebilla Salomons, Yoel Hartogs.
    The best fitting official name:
    Smoel Polak, Yoel Polak, Yoel (Yorel) Polak, Moses (Meusken) Pagrach, Dientje Samuel, Benjamin (Wolf) Pachrach,SamuelPachrach, Johanna Polak, Abraham Pagrach, Mietje de Vries, Jacob Spanjaard, Elisabeth Spanjaard, Gesiena Cohen, Levi Spanjaard, Marianne Weijl, Louise Spanjaard, Benjamin (Ben) Magnus, Jacob Berg.

    They have disappeared from the street-scenery
    A ‘Jùdn-màestr’ (Jewish master), during the week hardly recognizable as such, in his blue overall, on his bike with the Brooks-saddle and at its bar the knife for ritual slaughtering in a sort of sable.
    The Jewish butchers for whom the rabbi with his slaughter-knife performed the kosher slaughtering. Those butchers who, when they had slaughtered a fat cow again, had the town-crier Bootn-Jan (Nijland) announce in the streets that ‘three pounds of meat were available for one guilder’.
    The Jewish vegetable-merchants whom one could hear from street-distances with the prolonged cry ‘apples… pears…’
    The Jewish manufacturers who marketed their wares from their shops by carrying a box with straps on their back.
    The Jewish ragmen, with their handcarts.
    The Jewish freight-men or “cart-men”, or in later times, driving a truck, like the shipping agent with his yellow car, who because of his poor eye-sight was called ‘the yellow danger’.
    All the other Jewish small businessmen. They could be tobacco-manufacturers, cattle-dealers, hawkers, dealers in poultry or shoemakers. And the single none-businessman, who became factory-worker, a sailor or farmer.
    It is gone, that Jewish part of the population, with its often so typical sense of humor: Sam van Ruubn, who has Bootn-Jan announce: “At Ruubn there is a calf with six legs”. He had put two extra legs in the calves-pen. Half of Rijssen’s population came to look and one told the other that it was true, not wanting to know they had been made fun off.
    They have all gone: the Jews (who in Rijssen were only Dutch), sons and daughters of patriarch Jacob. As far as we can take stock off (except for the Cohens, who descend from the priest lineage of the tribe of Levi) they were all from the tribe of Judah. It was transmitted from father to son that they were related to this tribe, and that is the little knowledge–but not the most unimportant one –which is known about the origin and the descent of the former and present Jewish fellow-citizens of Rijssen and more in general of Twente and the Achterhoek of Gelderland.

    Spare information from archives
    The archives of Rijssen inform us sparingly about the family-history of the Jews of Rijssen. Only the registers of the civil registration after 1810 provide more exact data. Even if there had been data in the archive about the Jewish community from before 1811, they have been lost with all the others during the years of war. However, some worthwhile information can be obtained from the old archive.
    In July 1743 the then resident of the manorial farm “the Oosterhof” paid ‘the Jew in Rijssen on account 8-0-0’. He was probably a butcher, because in 1744 there is a pay “to the Jew for ½ a beast 20-0-0’. When in 1763 and a few times afterwards ‘to the Jew Dr. 5-0-0’ is paid for the boy, we possibly have to do with a physician; in 1766 ‘the Jew Dr. in Rijssen was paid 7-11-0’.
    In 1748 one Jewish family is mentioned in Rijssen, the family of Samuel Arons and wife with a son Aron, who is older than 10 years. In 1751 the builder Jan Dikkers demands of Emanuel Salomons the remaining part of the value of the by him delivered two golden quadruples as a loan. Helena Poppers declares that in 1768 Salomon Israel from Rijssen, settles in ‘the Hardenberg’. From the death-data after 1800 we learn, that from 1752 until 1763 some relatives of the Samuel-family are born, apparently another family than the before-mentioned Samuel Arons.
    In 1782 in the books of publication of the banns of the Dutch Reformed Community of Rijssen, which at that time was obliged by law to register all the planned marriages of all denominations, the publication of the banns is registered of Izack Salomons, born in Poland with Elisabeth Joseph, born in Beusichem in the earldom Buren.
    We meet names like ‘the Jew Zuisman Moses’, ‘the Jew Pool’; we encounter in about 1780 a Levi Emanuel (can this possibly be a son of the before-mentioned Emanuel Salomons?), who still did not pay part of the price for sold and delivered lottery-tickets in the 66th lottery of the States General. The same Levi Emanuel receives, on August 26, 1789, together with his son Manuel Levi and his half-brother Salomon Davids, civil rights of the town of Rijssen. We see at the registration of the book of citizens, ‘that both were born here’. We find Levi’s name several times in the law-protocols of Rijssen, for example in 1789. He then has seized the goods of the teacher Adam Langenberg, known from Rijssen’s history.This in connection of his 45 guilders, seven five-cents pieces and 8 pennies debt , resulting from the sale in 1788 of a fattened beast, a bedcover, 17 ½ pounds of geese-feathers, 2 ½ ells of purple cotton, 3 ells of purple cotton, an Orange ribbon and 2 ells of ‘Samoos’.

    13 Jewish inhabitants in 1795
    As appears from a document of 1792 ‘the Jewish Salesmen Levi Emanuel and his half-brother Salomon Davids appear before the magistrate in Rijssen with the announcement that, as Salomon David ‘now intends to marry and is thinking about going to live in Almelo’, they want to end their trade and business in partnership. Salomon Davids confirms his part in ‘the goods and drapery of Cotton Chitzen Cloth and Silk material and further all that in one word belongs to the said trade and business’, which had been established by his half-brother. It is registered as well, that Salomon Davids bought a house in Almelo in 1791 on his own account. From a later mortgage-registration, it appears that Salomon Davids was married to Bette Joseph. Levi Emanuel went to Deventer in 1802, where he adopts the name Goudsmit in 1811, when he is 67 years old. His wife was called Magdalena Abrahams.
    Another name we find is Joseph Salomons. In 1755 he demands of the magistrate of Rijssen that goods be returned, which had been seized from him unjustly. He had namely been accused in 1753 to have bought some fat animals in Groningerland with a contagious disease ‘which then was very common with cattle’, and he had slaughtered these animals in Rijssen. Apparently he was acquitted from this charge, but the before mentioned seized household-effects were nevertheless not given back yet.
    We also meet Hartog Abrahams regularly. In 1774 he sells a house, in the name of the couple ‘Abrahams Izaak and Eva Salomons Fles, a couple from the Jewish Nation’, which traditionally was called the Cloister in the Bouwstreet. A later document mentions that he was married to Sebilla Salomons. In 1794 he had become so weak because of illness that he cannot provide for his family anymore. He then signs a contract of alimentation with his son Yoel Hartogs. When in 1795 a census was taken, we find only 13 Jewish inhabitants, namely: Hartog Arons (= Hartog Abrahams) butcher, Jew, 8 inhabitants; the widow Samuel Arons, Jewess, rags, 4 inhabitants and David the Jew, skinning, one inhabitant.

    A synagogue only in 1885
    It is extremely difficult to establish a relationship based on the mentioned names, but besides a fair impression, which we receive from the before-mentioned facts about the professions of the Jewish inhabitants, one can conclude that in the second half of the 18th century there was quite some change among these Jewish inhabitants.
    But that slowly but surely a solid core came into being (especially the Samuel-family) is proved by the fact that the magistrate of Rijssen speaks more frequently about ‘the Jewish Nation in Rijssen’. Especially when the mayors on the third of July 1792 give the rights ‘to bury their dead and to be sure on this town’s ground named Den Hagen, at the far end near the Court of Antony Schutten’.
    This graveyard, situated approximately at the spot where the Hagen makes a bend to the Oranjestreet, was cleared in 1949 and the remains were transferred, under
    rabbinical supervision of Minister Hartog from Utrecht, to the Jewish cemetery at the Arend Baanstreet, on the Brekelt, which had been laid out there already in 1878. Two gravestones, hardly decipherable were transferred as well. According to a newspaper-article from 1949 they bear the dates 1830 and 1850, but specialists estimate their age to be more than 200 years, which if correct, does not coincide with the lay out of the first Jewish cemetery.
    The size of the Jewish community was such that only in 1884, a synagogue with bath and school was being built, which was shared with Holten. In 1885 this ‘Church of the Dutch Jewish Community in Rijssen’ was ready. In the stone-tablet a Hebrew superscription was chiselled: ‘How gracious are your mansions to me, O Lord of Hosts’ (Psalm 84, verse 2). Not more than a few church-windows in the South-façade of the store of G. van Dam B.V. at the Elsenerstreet 47 remind us, that once a House of God had stood here.

    Some anecdotes about Jewish families in Rijssen after 1810.
    The Polak-family. This family came from Sampter in (then) Prussian Poland, where the father of Smoel Polak, who died in 1843 when he was 92 years old, was a tailor at the time. His name was Yoel Polak. The story tells, that Smoel Polak at the age of 70, on the expenses of the citizens of Rijssen, paid a visit to his place of birth, where he met again his sisters Rachel and Lea; the last one served a Cossack hetman, who had encamped near Rijssen when the French troops were chased away in 1813. Smoel’s son Yoel, who was also called Yorel, died unmarried on January 12, 1878 and he was the first one to be buried at the new Jewish cemetery at the Brekelt.
    The Pagrach-family. Moses (Meusken) Pagrach, born in Markelo in 1809, married the before mentioned Dientje Samuel in 1837. At the time of his marriage he was a hawker, but later he is also called ‘cart-man’. When he came with his freight-cart from Almelo, he blew a small horn near the ‘vearn-bridge’. The tune was the signal for his family that Father was coming and the following verse made this quite clear:
    Moses, Dientje, Rachel, Bram
    Benjamin, Roze, Dries and Sam
    Dientje, prepare the coffee
    Meusken is then there.

    The names mention the parents and the six children. The name Benjamin was the nickname of the son Wolf in common life.
    The son Samuel (Pagrachs-Sam, 1850-1930) was butcher, married to Johanna Polak from Goor. From the last-mentioned marriage descended among the others Abraham Pagrach (1885-Sobibor 1943) married to Mietje de Vries. He was Chazan (leading the synagogue services) and verger in the synagogue at the absence of a rabbi, he also performed the ritual slaughtering and he taught Jewish boys, preparing them for their Bar Mitswah. He was a strictly orthodox Jew who, when offered to go into hiding before his deportation, is said to have declared ‘God is in Poland just as He is in Rijssen’.

    The Spanjaards
    Jacob Spanjaard (Enter 1806-Rijssen 1891) married, as said before, his cousin, Elisabeth Spanjaard from Goor and after her death he married Gesiena Cohen from Losser. They lived in the Walstreet. From their children, Rachel also called Roosaale, Nathan and Levi, was the last (1860-1938) butcher and dealer in cattle. They called him ‘Leewie- Dood’ (Levy-Dead). From his marriage with Marianne Weijl descent: Jacob Spanjaard (1903-Sobibor 1943) and Louise Spanjaard. Louise married Benjamin (Ben) Magnus (Assen 1900-Haillingen 1945), butcher at the Tabaksgaarden; he was the only Jewish butcher, who also sold pork, but he did not slaughter pigs.
    Levi Spanjaard’s mother was a strictly orthodox Jewish woman. His wife was a bit less. That was sometimes a reason for disagreements, for example when Levi was offered a ‘nuchtrn calf’. Sina, his mother said: “Levi, it’s Shabbath”! Jane, his wife, however said: “Levi, Shabbath will come again, a calf does not”.
    The Berg-family. Jacob Berg, butcher by profession had a special way of walking. That’s why they called him at times ‘Stappertjen’ (stepper). They also had given him the peculiar nickname of ‘the Pinne’. When once he had gone with his wife to Groningen, to buy calves, a Jewish fellow-citizen had written on their windows: “Mister and Mrs.are not in, don’t you now say: here lives the Pin”.


    Additional notes (25) by the author are given on pages 131 – 132 of the article and they are not published here, but can be sent as a scan upon request.
    The original pages in Dutch can be scanned upon request.
    (For both services a fee for copying and office expenses will be requested)

    Over “De Joodse Natie” te Rijssen
    by D.Poortman
    Twents Jaarboek 1985 (Article)
    Pages 115-132
    Specimen of the book in the genealogical library at the Center for Research of Dutch Jewry-Hebrew University-Jerusalem
    Nr. 903, Location Code d141

    extracted and translated by:Yael (Lotje) Benlev-de Jong
    End editing:Trudi Asscher & Ben Noach

    Search the Web-site (databases, family trees, regional genealogies and collections)

    Izaak Vomberg(1853-1943), expert of art and antique objects. Rachel Pagrach(1838-1935) laundress of bonnets, was fully integrated , even where her clothing was concerned, in the society of Rijssen.

    View Larger Map