International Jewish Cemetery Project - Netherlands Portuguese Jewish Cemetery [Bet Chaim] at Ouderkerk: Located in Ouderkerk village on the Amstel River, about five miles south of Amsterdam, is a very old cemetery surrounded by a fence with locked gates. All burials are in aboveground concrete vaults. Only a few graves have upright headstones. This burial site for Sephardic Jews of Amsterdam dates to 1614, if not earlier. The oldest tombstone dates from 1616 but most date 1650-1750. The cemetery is located on a narrow, residential street across from private dwellings with a walkway leading from the street. An old building to the right of the walkway bears a worn sign in Dutch stating that entry to the cemetery is restricted. The cemetery includes the grave of poet, historian, and scholar Menasseh ben Israel, the rabbi who convinced Oliver Cromwell to readmit Jews to England and the teacher of Baruch Spinoza. Buried here is Michael de Espinoza (father of Baruch de Espinoza), Dr. Ephraim Bueno (painted by Rembrandt), and Abigail da Penha, model for Rembrandt's The Jewish Bride. At the entrance is the "Metaarhuis" [pre-burial house]. Recently reprinted is "The Beth Haim of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel - Images of a Portuguese Jewish cemetery in Holland" in Dutch and English that gives a history of the cemetery and a short overview of the history of the Portuguese Jewish community. The Portuguese Synagogue is located near the Rembrandt House, the Moses en Aronkerk, and the Jewish Historical Museum. The synagogue book and gift shop may have the gate key to the cemetery. Directions Article on Beth Chaim Cemetery from August (2015?)to Portuguese Cemetery: By car - take A2 south towards Utrecht to exit 9 (A9) towards Ouderkerk. About four miles on the right side of the road is a farm with a windmill. On the left is the entrance to the town and a town park. Cemetery is located on a street to the left at the end of the road. Source: Freedman, Warren. World Guide for the Jewish Traveler NY: E.P. Dutton. First Ed. 1948, pp. 23236-237; 239; 242. See: Rand McNally CityFlash Map for Amsterdam, 1992-1993 Ed., Hallwag AG, Bern. Benelux und Nordfrankreich Maps Booklet, Copyright by Ravenstein GmbH; Cityplans. The Netherlands by Cito-plan b.v. Den Haag, map p. 11. Source: Benjamin B. Terner, 19 Hickory Hill Court, Silver Spring, MD 20906 301-871-2370.
- "At the entrance to the cemetery stands the Metaarhuis, which served as the place for the ritual cleansing of the corpses." Source: Israelowitz, Oscar. Guide to Jewish Europe. Brooklyn, NY: Israelowitz Publishing, 1995, p. 211. [October 2000]
See Ouderkerk photos at http://ouderkerk.nykerk.nl from Menno Nykerk; e-mail:
http://www.cardozo.org/bethhaim: Restoration and historical information from Beth Chaim Foundation. [December 2002]
"Here on four hectares is the oldest Jewish cemetery in The Netherlands. Beth Haim, which ironically means, The House of Life, dates back to the 17th century. It was established out of necessity, by the Sephardic Jewish community, who had been exited from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492. In the centre of this picture-perfect town only 11 miles from Amsterdam, records show that over 27,000 people are buried in Beth Haim including the parents of the famous philosopher Baruch Spinoza. The first burial in 1624 was of a young child. As I walked to a gate near the city's river, I was told by the caretaker who has brought along her frisky terrier, that it was at this landing platform where boats would bring the bodies - the most convenient means of transport to the cemetery at that time." Source: http://www.jewishwanderer.com [December 2002]
"Castro, D. H. de (David Henriques). KEUR VAN GRAFSTENEN OP DE PORTUGEES-ISRÄELIETISCHE BEGRAAFPLAATS TE OUDERKERK AAN DE AMSTEL MET BESCHRIJVING EN BIOGRAFISCHE AANTEKENINGEN: MET PLATEN / SELECTED GRAVESTONES FROM THE DUTCH PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY AT OUDERKERK AAN DE AMSTEL WITH DESCRIPTIONS AND BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES: WITH PLATES. This new aumented edition, issued in a limited run of only 500 copies, an English translation of de Castro's historical commentary, including descriptions of six additional tombstones; additional photographs, more than a century old, showing details that have since been obliterated in the cemetery itself; an introductory article in English and Dutch by Julie Marthe-Cohen; and a selected bibliography on the Portuguese-Jewish cemetery at Ouderkerk and other affiliated burial grounds by F.J. Hoogewoud of the Biblioteca Rosenthaliana and Dr. Falk Wiesemann of the Heinrich-Heine Universität, Düsseldorf. Source: http://www.DanWymanBooks.com [December 2002]
- De Joodse begraafplaats te Overveen (The Jewish Cemetery in Overveen Amsterdam by J. Mejer and J. Slagter. Harlem, 1983.96 pages, illustrated, Dutch. S84B1739.
- Notes: 112 + # +6 tombstones, 1797-1939 + 1940-1945 + 1945-1981, chronology, register of Adath Jeschurun synagogue in Amsterdam, cemetery and synagogue history. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
- Kol bat galim (Voices of the seas Kingdom), by G. Polak. Amsterdam, 1867. 16 pages, Hebrew. R79A7100.
- Notes: 24 tombstones, 1673-1867, outstanding personalities: men and women, some Ashkenazim. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
- Tavei chayim lezikhron hametin (Signs of life to remember the dead) by G. Polak. Amsterdam, 1861. 7 pages, Hebrew. 29V4817.
- Notes: 1 tombstone, 1861, eulogy and biography of Meir Lehren, Meuderberg cemetery history & description, bibliography on European Jewish cemeteries. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
- The Beth Haim of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel: Images of a Portuguese-Jewish cemetery in Holland by L. Alvares Vega. Assen, 1979.
- 60 pages, illustrated, Dutch and English. 80B1001. 1994 new edition S96B4161. Notes: 59 tombstones, 1614-1750, + 3 tombstones, 1864-1892, Portuguese Jewish history in Holland, cemetery plan. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
- Auswahl von Grabsteinen auf dem Niederland-Portuguese-Israel Begraebnissplatz
- (A choice of tombstones from the Jewish Dutch-Portuguese burial place) by H. de Castro. Keiden, 1883. 125 pages, illustrated, Dutch & German. 2 29V4826. Notes: 28 tombstones (some more than one person in one tombstone), 1614-1730, list of tombstones, large biography, register 1616-1630. Source: Tagger, Mathilde. Printed Books on Jewish cemeteries in the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem: an annotated bibliography. Jerusalem: The Israel Genealogical Society, 1997.
- [UPDATE] Article on Beth Chaim Cemetery from August 2014 [June 2016]
- [UPDATE] Photos by R. Shalom Morris from 2014 [June 2016]