An example for others

Wertheim (1832-1897) was an example for the Jewish citizens during the second half of the 19th century. He joined his uncle at the small renowned bank Wertheim & Gompertz at an early age. His professional position provided opportunities to become socially active.

 

Amstelstraat 24-32, in 2007. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Philanthropist and politician

As a progressive-conservative, Wertheim was the initiator of numerous undertakings for the purpose of stimulating the economy and the public interest. He promoted steam navigation, he was the chairman of the Zuiderzeevereniging (an association that aimed to reclaim the Zuiderzee from the sea), he supported the establishment of the Burgerziekenhuis (civilian hospital); these are just a few examples. As a conservative, he was a member of the Provincial States and of the Senate.

 

Amstelstraat in 1917: Wertheim & Gomperts bank building on the left. Artist: Tinus de Jongh

Theatre-lover

Wertheim had a huge fondness for theatre. He was a member of an amateur drama association and founded the ‘Het Nederlandsche Toneel’ (Dutch scene) together with Van Tienhoven, who would later become the mayor. After the Stadsschouwburg (municipal theatre) burned down in 1890, Wertheim devoted himself to realising a speedy reconstruction.

 

Portrait of Abraham Carel Wertheim (artist unknown). Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Chairman of the Jewish community

Wertheim was very significant to the Jewish community as well. He was co-founder of the association Handwerkers Vriendenkring (Craftsmen Circle of Friends), which aimed to promote the emancipation of the Jewish working class. Wertheim is known for his phrase ‘A Jew in the synagogue and a civilian on the streets’. Although not a religious person himself, he nevertheless fulfilled the position of chairman of the Jewish community for a number of years. Within a year after his sudden death in 1897, a monument was erected in his honour in the Wertheimpark (park that bears his name).