The Pelican

The Portuguese-Jewish community had its own care system. It could make use of a hospital on the Rapenburgerplein as from 1833. A plaque stating ‘De Pellekaen’ is a reminder of the previous owner. This symbol of the pelican with its young refers to the three Portuguese synagogues that were combined in 1639 to make up one single Jewish community.

 

Portuguese Israelite Hospital on the Henri Polaklaan, built in 1916. Photo: Jan van Dijk.

Patients and elderly women

A new hospital was built in the shady Plantage by the architect Harry Elte (1880-1944) in 1916. It was the smallest of three Jewish hospitals in the city, and so it became known for its regard for its patients. A home for elderly Portuguese-Jewish women could be found to the left of the hospital. The nursing staff resided in the same building. A plaque with a pelican and its young can be found above the entrance to this building as well.

 

Beth Sjalom, a Jewish home for the elderly (relocated in 1979). Photo: Roeland Koning.

Sterilisations

After all of the Jewish care institutions in the Netherlands had been looted by the occupier at the beginning of 1943, this hospital was allowed to remain open longer. It became the scene of forced sterilisations. Jewish men in mixed marriages were not transported out of the country if they agreed to an operation. It is said that the attending surgeons performed numerous fake operations.

Beth Sjalom

This location once again served Jewish purposes after the war. It became the premises of the Jewish home for the elderly Beth Sjalom (Huis van Vrede – House of Peace). This home was moved to Osdorp in 1979 and later to Buitenveldert. The former hospital with 61 housing units now serves as an accommodation for young people.