Before the war, the section of the Nieuwe Kerkstraat (street) between Amstel and the Roetersstraat was also referred to as the Jodenkerkstraat. The residents were mainly Jewish and one could find various Jewish institutions, including a number of synagogues and a meat hall where kosher meat was sold.
The purification house of the Dutch Israelite congregation, 1927. Photo: City Archive Amsterdam.
Jewish care complex
A large Jewish care complex, the last remains of which form the metaarhuis, could be found between the Nieuwe Keizersgracht (canal) and the Nieuwe Kerkstraat. The NIZ could be found along the canal from 1833 until 1943. A mental hospital, which was moved to Apeldoorn in 1921, could originally be found next door. A large home for elderly Jews, on the right of the metaarhuis, has meanwhile made room for social housing projects.
Kerkstraat 127 as it looks today. Photo: Roeland Koning.
Death and burial
Patients who had died were washed and laid out in the metaarhuis in accordance with Jewish tradition. They could then be transported to one of the Jewish cemeteries in Zeeburg, Diemen or Muiderberg. It is not surprising that this parting took place at the back of the hospital. Subsequently, the following cautioning phrase stems from that time: ‘In on the Keizersgracht and out on the Kerkstraat’: Take care, you may come to no good!
The austere front by architect Harry Elte (1880-1944) dating back to 1926 was originally adorned with sculptures. A Hebrew text from the Book of Job could be found above the door. These details disappeared during a drastic renovation in 1964. The premises later accommodated a wine business and a lemonade factory.