Jews in Holland

Jewish NetherlandsThe Jews of the 1500s brought to Amsterdam trade and commerce. The famous Dutch East India Company, responsible for settling so much of what would become America, was financed and headed by Jews; even though they did not take a prominent public role they were the driving force behind it. Indeed, under Jewish influence Holland became a colonial world power.

Holland became a world power with the help of Jewish drive and ingenuity. This was mainly the result of the Spanish Jews who had fled Spain, and then the Marranos Jews who followed afterward. Almost all of them officially resumed their observance and practice of Judaism openly. After a period of time they were integrated into the community.

Interestingly, among the things Jews brought to Amsterdam was religious tolerance. In the ancient library next to the Spanish-Portuguese library, in the rotunda, is a membership list from the 1600s. Next to each name is a code noting who was a Marrano and who was not. However, gradually after 50-60 years the code disappears. Everyone integrated.

We see from that how very hard it was for those Jews who gave up everything in Spain to act with complete equanimity toward those Jews who had caved into the pressure and converted. Nevertheless, time would heal the wounds.

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