Sunday, July 17, 2011

Amsterdam -- quick Jewish tour

By Ruth Ellen Gruber

JTA's "Transatlantic" blog by Alex Weisler runs a rapid-fire travel story on Jewish Amsterdam, with a main emphasis on the Anne Frank House.
It was my first time in Holland, and I was struck by the city’s warmth and beauty and by the way it seems to gleefully dart back and forth between the seedy and the genteel.

Amsterdam also has much to offer the Jewish traveler.

Anne Frank House should be at the top of any yiddishe tourist’s itinerary. The museum, housed in the building where the diarist and seven others hid from the Nazis in the famous “Secret Annex,” is just a short walk from the Dam, one of the city’s central squares and a main center for shopping. It’s a remarkably subtle installation – helped by the fact that photos are not allowed, forcing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the experience.

I was caught off-guard by how emotional the exhibit made me, but I suppose I shouldn’t have been. There’s something timeless about Anne’s story and something to be commended about the way the museum has chosen to present it – respectfully but not morbidly, powerfully but without bombast. It may well have been the most effective Holocaust memorial I’ve ever visited.
 He also highlighted the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam, as well as some other sites.
If you have one more attraction in your system, I’d recommend the Jewish Historical Museum, housed near the Dam in four conjoined former Ashkenazi synagogues. (Across the street is the city’s Portuguese Synagogue, a spare, compelling space that is also worth a visit.) The museum explores Jewish rituals, from life-cycle events to Torah study, as well as examining Jewish history in the Netherlands since 1600.

1 comment:

  1. The 3 hour Jewish Amsterdam Tour is operated on a daily basis
    by Naomi Koopmans. She is a professional Jewish guide: