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BETH HAIM PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY

BETH HAIM PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, North Holland, Netherlands
INFORMATION

Portuguese Jews settled in Amsterdam after fleeing persecution in Spain in the sixteenth century. Although northern Europe was tolerant during this violent period, the Portuguese Jews were refused a Jewish cemetery in the city. Instead, in 1614, the community purchased land 31 miles from Amsterdam at the confluence of the Bullewijk and Amstel rivers. Beth Haim covers 10 acres and has more than 27,500 graves from over four centuries. The Portuguese Jewish community thrived in Amsterdam until the early twentieth century, and Beth Haim, which means “house of life,” is replete with refined carvings and inscriptions devoted to the dead.

The location of the cemetery at the confluence of two rivers has led to significant water issues, compounded by a lack of regular maintenance. The local community today is committed to the preservation of the cemetery, but resources are limited. Open for public tours and in close proximity to Amsterdam, the local stewards of the site strive to raise public awareness and preserve the site for future generations.

IN THE MEDIA

Download a 2012 Watch poster of this site (see download instructions).

BETH HAIM PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY
View of the cemetery, looking north from the Bullewijk River, 2008
BETH HAIM PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY
Tombstone dating from the 17th century, 2008
BETH HAIM PORTUGUESE JEWISH CEMETERY
Tombstone funerary symbols, including a tearful putti, skull, hourglass, and a pair of crossed scythes, 2010