Dutch Progressive Jews and Their Unexpected Key Role in Europe

in European Judaism
Chaya Brasz Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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Liberal Judaism remained absent in the Netherlands during the nineteenth century but finally became successful in the early 1930s under the influence of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London and the establishment of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in 1926. It had a specific Dutch character which was more radical than the German refugees who joined in were used to. The Shoah barely left survivors of the prewar congregations, but Liberal Judaism made a remarkable comeback in the Netherlands and had a key role position for Liberal Judaism on the continent of Europe. In a much smaller Jewish community than the French one, the Dutch Progressive congregations for a considerable period formed the largest Progressive community on the continent, next to France. Even today, while comprising ten congregations, it still has a growing membership.

Contributor Notes

Chaya Brasz, a historian and publicist, lives in Jerusalem and is a former director of the Center for Research on Dutch Jewry at the Hebrew University. For the seventy-sfifth jubilee of the Dutch Union for Progressive Judaism she – as a former member – compiled a book on its history.

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