Vriendenkring (Circle of friends)

Various independent religious associations came about in the nineteenth century, which existed alongside the official Jewish community. These were called chewre, or a circle of friends. The Dutch term gabber, is also derived from the Hebrew word chaweer, which means friend. These circles of friends organised their own synagogue services and studied the Jewish doctrine.

 

The "Sjoel van Neir Mitswoh Wetouro Or" on the Nieuwe Kerkstraat. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Neir Mitswoh Wetouro Or

One of the oldest and largest associations was the Neir Mitswoh Wetouro Or, or in other words, ‘The Commandment equals a light, the Doctrine equals a fire’ [Proverbs 6:23]. Independent services were already organised before 1841. In 1913, the Jewish architect Harry Elte (1880-1944) was commissioned to build a new association’s building with a synagogue at the location of Nieuwe Kerkstraat 10-14 (street). This synagogue could accommodate 192 men and 36 women.

 

Nieuwe Kerkstraat 10-14. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam

Fernandes Nuneshuis

Two facing bricks mark the Fernandes Nuneshuis directly left of the synagogue. Upon his death, the Portuguese-Jewish merchant Joseph Fernandes Nunes (1721-1788) left this house to be used to offer shelter to poor Jewish women. Caring for the large group of poor people was one of the tasks of the Jewish community. Private persons also contributed.

Decline

The chewresjoel was entirely looted during the war. The residents of the Fernades Nuneshuis were hauled off in January 1943 and killed later on. The texts on the facing bricks were damaged beyond recognition after the war. They were restored in 1995.