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 Belgium with a population of about 10.7 million, is about the size of the State of Maryland.  It
a multilingual country with Dutch as the primary language in the northern half, known as the Flemish RegionFrench is spoken in the southern half, called the Walloon Region, while a smaller, German speaking community is located along the eastern border.  A mix of these languages is spoken in the Capital Region of Brussels.

The term "Low Countries" is used collectively for Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, a reference to the low-lying nature of the land.

On May 10, 1940 the Nazis occupation of the entire country began.  Some months later, the Nazis launched their anti-Jewish campaign and fifty-three thousand Jews were deported out of 100,000 residing in the country.  Jews were able to hide in an area of Belgium that the Germans, during WW 1, also did not occupy.

The majority of the Jews living in Belgium at this time, were foreign nationals, including many stateless ones.  Many tried to flee the country; some returned and others fled to the US, Latin America, Portugal, Britain, etc. 

There was considerable support in Belgium for resistance to the German occupation. Over 25,000 Jews avoided deportation by hiding from the German authorities. The Belgian civilian administration refused to cooperate in the deportations. Since most of the Jews in Belgium were immigrants, they tended to be mistrustful of official appeals and were less likely to report their whereabouts to the authorities. The German military police carried out the deportations. Between 1942 and 1944, the Germans deported nearly 25,000 Jews from Belgium to the Auschwitz extermination camp. Most were murdered there. The Breendonck and
Mechelen camps served as collection centers for the deportations. Fewer than 2,000 deportees survived the Holocaust.

Allied forces liberated Belgium in September 1944.


Today, Belgium has the fourth largest Jewish community in Europe. There are scattered small Jewish communities in Knokke, Ostend, Ghent, Liege, Charleroi, Arlon, Waterloo, and Mons.


Do your searches on
All Of Belgium with the Online Telephone Directory.  Search in the Business Directory and in the Residential Directory.




In the summer of 1942, as persecution of Belgium 's Jews began, an   underground Jewish group took form in cooperation with the Belgian underground and set out to rescue Jewish children by hiding them in various places around the country. The most active team consisted of twelve-women, mostly non-Jewish, who managed to hide some 3000 children. This admirable clandestine campaign was unique by the complexity of its structure and the degree of its success.

The only remaining survivor from the team is Andre Geulen, and on September 4, a great number of the children who had been hidden, celebrated her ninetieth birthday. The celebration included a screening of a DVD in which singer Keren Hadar performed a song in her honor. The song stirred a great deal of emotion.

This song, composed very shortly before the event, arose from an impulse on the part of one of the hidden children - Shaul Harel, who today is a professor of pediatric neurology. And this is how it happened.....

One warm summer day at the Isrotel Dead Sea Hotel, the Harel family was visiting for a performance of the opera Ada at Masada. Shaul Harel was lolling alone in the whirlpool bath. As the warm water and the complete solitude began to take effect, he wondered intensely what gift he could bring to Andre for her birthday. "After all, she already has everything. After the war,  she married a Jewish attorney, they were blessed with two daughters and with grandchildren and great grandchildren, and to this day she is surrounded by the love of the children she rescued."

Suddenly, as to Archimedes in his warm bath, the Muse descended to him. Although he did not emerge with  mathematical equation - since mathematics was never his subject - he just as suddenly decided to write her a poem. And this is not to be taken lightly, since for many years he had written nothing but medical documentation and articles.

The warmth of the water and the atmosphere brought lines tumbling into his mind, and as if possessed, he burst into the hotel room and told his wife, Dahlia, to sit down and transcribe because otherwise the lines would "get away" from him. His wife raised her eyebrows, thinking that the desert heat had overpowered him. But she consented and soon a poem was on paper telling Andre's story. Shaul's imagination took him further and he said that the poem should be set to music and his favorite singer, Keren Hadar, should Perform it.

Since the poem was written in free verse, Dahlia worked rhymes into it. The poem was read to Keren and she was moved to tears. She said that it was suitable for setting to music and that she would like to sing it. She recommended Rafi Kadishzon, a prolific and well-known composer. Rafi heard the poem, liked it, and immediately recommended Dan Almagor, a master of the Hebrew word, to adjust the text for the music. In the end, Dan Almagor contributed greatly to the rhythm, to the refrain, and to the perfect fit of the lyrics. 

All this occurred in the course of two weeks. A week later, the song was recorded, the DVD visuals were prepared, and copies were printed with graphics and with a French and English translation. Everyone who saw it was moved, and now, here it is for you......

 'Mademoiselle' sung by Keren Hadar, with English translation



"Belgium Jewish Heritage"
Available from the Belgian Tourist Office, 780 Third Avenue, Suite 1501, New York, NY 10017.  This booklet has information about Jewish museums, kosher restaurants and Jewish organizations.

"Index of Jewish Family Names and Family Search Indicators to Provide Quicker and Easier Searches in Brussels' Archives"  
Authored by Claude Geudevertt, this index is a genealogical tool which provides useful information for those interested in finding their Jewish roots and their possible connections with Belgium.  An alphabetical list of family names, based on available archival sources in Brussels, along with the first location where an individual or family is known or proved to have lived prior to coming to Brussels.  This index is one of a series of helpful publications available from
GenAmi at a nominal charge.

"Memorial to the Jews Deported from Belgium 1942-44"
(Memorial de la Deportation des Juifs de Belgique")
Authored by Beate Klarsfeld, was published after 1978 in English and should be available from F.F.D.J.F 32, rue la Boetie, 75008 Paris, France or from The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation 515 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10022


Cities and Towns in Belgium


Synagoog van de Portugese ritus Hoveniersstraat 3



Antwerp was one of the main transit ports in Europe.  The Flemish port city encompasses one of the last remaining shtetls in the world.  Diamonds and Orthodoxy are the two forces of this community.  There are six large Ashkenazi Shuls and one small Sephardi one located across from the diamond exchange.  On the front of the synagogue is a memorial plaque to the victims of a Palestinian terrorist bomb placed there in 1981.  The primary language is Yiddish, French or Hebrew. Useful addresses in  Antwerp can be found listed


Antwerp Census of 1913
Names and addresses may be obtained by writing to Micheline Guttmann, GenAmi, Paris, France


In French

Antwerp Passenger Lists
Available via the internet.  Make your request by posting a message in the
soc.genealogy.benelux  newsgroup who are very helpful.

Emigrants leaving from Antwerp to the US and Canada, in the period from 1872 until 1935, were in general, transported by the Red Star Line.  Unfortunately, it is said that nothing has survived of the Red Star Line archives.  The only source of information for emigrants who were not residents of Belgium are the registers of hotels and boarding houses.  Emigrants did not usually stay in hotels, but in boarding houses. Some, but not all, registers of boarding houses are kept at the Stadsarchief in Antwerp and can be viewed there.  The periods available are:

Nothing available for 1890-1891

Jan Bousse of Oostende, Belgium boussejan@pandora.be may be contacted for additional information according to a posting to JewishGen

Jewish Quarter of Antwerp, Belgium (1)

Shtetl Within A Shtetl
There had been a Jewish presence as early as the 13th century, but it took 500 years before Jews could worship freely.  The Jews were accused of creating the Black Plaque of 1348 by poisoning the wells. Under Spanish rule, between 1506 and 1713, the city attracted Conversos from Portugal who created not only a diamond and pearl industry, but also the sugar trade and in 1536, established the first international stock exchange in Europe.

Around the middle of the 16th century, Spanish sovereigns expelled Conversos who had arrived before 1543; by 1591, just 47 families remained. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 brought Antwerp under Austrian rule and Jews - including a few Ashkenazim were allowed residency in the city if they paid a special tax.

Jews were allowed, for the first time to settle freely in Antwerp after the French occupied the Low Countries in 1794.  Ashkenazim became dominant. In 1815, Antwerp was incorporated into The Netherlands and Jews were granted equality.  A Jewish cemetery was established in 1828.  In 1830, Belgium gained independence and over the next 30 years, the Jewish community grew to almost 1,000.

In 1939, the Jewish community reached 50,000 from the count of 8,000 in 1880 which made the Jews to be about 20 percent of the city's population. At the beginning of WWII, (April, 1941), pro-Nazis occupied Belgium and attacked Jewish shops and synagogues and in August they took over the diamond exchange.  With the help of the Jewish Resistance, some 800 Jews were hidden in the city, but, more than half of the Jewish community was murdered by the Nazis.

The city is referred to as the only European city with a shtetl.  The Jewish community is concentrated in Jootsewijk (the neighborhood around Pelikanstraat) and is highly visible of men in black coats and beards and modestly dressed women pushing baby carriages.  There are over a dozen synagogues - all of them Orthodox and now has a population of 18,000 Jews. 

For information about synagogues and kosher food, contact
Jacques Wenger, Director of Shomre Hadas
35 Terliststraat 
Phone 3-232-0187


Antwerp has an independent Jewish newspaper - Belgisch Israeliisch Weekblad

Much of the information on Antwerp was gleaned from an April 2007 issue of Hadassah Magazine that was written by Esther Hecht.  There is a lot more interesting facts in the article.


The Gallo-Roman town of Arlon has a very old Jewish community, for traces of Jews were found in Arlon as early as the 12th century.  However, this small community has other claims to glory.  It effectively has the first synagogue built in the Kingdom of Belgium (pursuant to a Royal Decree of December 16, 1863) and as such incarnates a major stage in the history of the Jewish community’s relations with our country’s authorities.  The synagogue, designed by architect Albert Jamot, was inaugurated on September 22, 1865, even though only 149 people of Jewish faith were registered with the town’s authorities in 1865.  This figure nevertheless was close to 2% of the town’s population.  Most of Arlon’s Jewish population came from northeastern France (Alsace-Lorraine) and were mainly horse traders and cattle merchants.


A monument has been placed in the new Jewish cemetery to the memory of the Jews of Arlon who were deported and massacred by the Nazis. 


There is a synagogue at Rue St. Jean. 
Contact: Sec: J. C. Jacob rue des Martyrs 11
Phone: 063 21 79 85







Bruge (Brocha)


Should you ever plan on visiting Belgium, may I suggest you consider this wonderful and delightful town.  In all of our travels, Shirley and I have never found a more tranquil setting as this town displays.  You will be able to see how people lived from the 14th and 15th centuries on as this town has preserved this delightful atmosphere very carefully. Bruge is a canal-filled former capital of West Flanders.

There are no modern buildings around.  Nothing has been remodeled to look like the 21st century.  The town looks the same today as it did in yesteryear. And if you are lucky, once every four years, I believe, the town has a celebration and the townspeople dress up like in the Renaissance days.  We happened to visit there when it happened and remember it now often as one of life's wonderful travel experiences.







Once a sleepy village that grew up around a chapel on an island in the Senne River, Brussels is now a thriving small capital city.  There is a substantial and diverse Jewish community  and the city is also the seat of the Consistoire Central Israelite de Belgique, the official representative body of Belgian Jewry that is composed of representatives of both Orthodoxy and the secular Jewish organizations.

List of 100,000 names from Brussels

Containing all the names of Jews and others, deported from Belgium, including some with their families.  Many families lived in Brussels since the 18th century.  Names from Eastern Europe, as well as from France, Germany and the Netherlands


Also there is a database containing documents, names and pictures from Jews deported from Belgium on the site:

Jewish Museum
(site is in French and Dutch only)



Beth Hillel
The synagogue of the Communaute Israelite Liberale de Belgique rue Josepah Dupont. It is the largest synagogues in Belgium and is traditional Ashkenazim. Rabbi is Albert Guigui.  Email: 512 43.34 & 512 92 37 has about 400 families as members.


The Central Synagogue
Established in 1878 and is next door to the Royal Conservatory and near the Palais de Justice.  Behind its nondescript front, is a stunningly beautiful interior. The congregation is 'traditional' and shares the synagogue with Orthodox  members  who hold their own parallel services in a shtibl on the second floor.  There are about 1,300 families who attend the High Holiday services.

Machsike Hadass
Communaute Israelite Orthodoxe de Bruxelles
67a rue de la Clinique
Rabbi Chaikin. 

Beth Ha'Midrash, a mikva'ot'oth and the Beth Din on the premises.


Much more general information about the Jewish community, including the addresses and
phone numbers of the many synagogues and Jewish organizations in Brussels can be found at



The Jewish Community of Charleroi took shape after the 1918 armistice.  It resulted mainly from the influx of Jews who fled the inhospitable lands of Eastern Europe and were hired as miners in the “Black Country’s” coal mines.  After official recognition by the Royal Decree of May 14, 1928, the community surged to stand at 600 families on the eve of World War II.  Little by little the Jews left the coal mines and turned to other trades.  Charleroi’s Jewish community grew considerably throughout this prewar period.  This was reflected by the development of synagogues, charitable organizations, and socio cultural centers.  However, the tragedy of the Holocaust struck the community a fatal blow from which it recovered with great difficulty, and at Belgium’s liberation the Jewish community of Charleroi was a shadow of its former self.  Hundreds of its members had been deported and exterminated.  Despite the adversity, the community’s life was reorganized around a smaller number of members.  It would stand out for its organization of major festivities in the former center in Rue de Bienfaisance and above all the building of a synagogue that was launched in 1961.  This synagogue, located in Rue Pige-au-Croly, was designed by the architect Badet and consecrated on February 24, 1963.  The building became both a house of worship and a community center

Since 1928, a cemetery in Montigny-Le-Tilleul (postal number 6110) has existed. A database was made for the oldest cemetery; contact Daniel Dratwa: d.dratwa@mjb-jmb.org

Holocaust Memorial
Located in the Jewish section of the Marcinelle district cemetery in Charleroi are two memorials, dedicated to the Jews murdered in the Holocaust


Synagogue and a Kehila at
56 rue Pige au Croly
Contact: Sec: M. Weinberg 65 rue van der Velde, 6300 Marchiennes



Fort Breedonk

Entrance to the Breendonck internment camp. Breendonck, Belgium, 1940-1944. — YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, New York


This is an abandoned army fortress that was used as a concentration camp by the Nazis during the war.  It primarily housed political prisoners, including Jews who were active in the resistance and was a notorious torture chamber site.  

The site has been preserved intact and is today a national memorial.  It is one of the 22 camps that won the morbid honor of having its name engraved on the floor of the memorial crypt at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.


Between 1942 and 1944, the Nazis rounded up more than 25,000 Belgian Jews, including 5,430 children, into the General Dossin de Saint Georges Barracks at Mechelen, halfway between Brussels and Antwerp.  They were then deported to Auschwitz where only 1,207 survived.

Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance
153 Goswin de Stassartstraat


  • A convoy of Jews (#20), left from Malines, Belgium on April 10, 1943 to Auschwitz

  • On August 13-14, stateless Jews are seized in the Belgian port city of Antwerp and sent to the Malines transit camp.


Ghent travel guide

Jewish Community
A Jewish community didn't appear
until the 18th century, although not until the late 18th century, with the French occupation, could one truly speak of a Jewish community taking root in the town.  A score of Jewish families were living in Ghent in 1817, and they already had a synagogue.

This small community was given a plot of land for a cemetery in 1847.  While the Jewish community of Ghent was recognized officiously by the young Belgian State’s authorities in 1834, official recognition did not come about until 1876.  It was granted by the Royal Decree of February 7, 1876, as was the case for the main Jewish communities of Antwerp and Brussels and the smaller communities of Liège and Arlon.  It is the chief city of eastern Flanders, Belgium. There are about 100 Jews currently living in Ghent


Located at St. Elizabethplein 11. 
Contact is J. Bloch, Veldstraat 60 
Telephone: 09 225 70 85






Keerbergen is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. The municipality comprises only the town of Keerbergen proper. On January 1, 2006 Keerbergen had a total population of 12,444.


I received the following Email: - perhaps someone will be able to help Frans.
I am writing a book about Keerbergen airfield.  In 1943, Berthold Linz and Fréderic Steiner, Jewish people who lived in Keerbergen, were arrested by the Germans.  I suppose that both men died in concentration camps.  Is there any website or database where I can find the names of the Belgian-Jewish people who died in these German camps ?  Where can I find confirmation about the fate of these people from Keerbergen? Nothing was found in the local archives of Keerbergen. Many thanks for your help, Frans Van Humbeek Frans.Van.Humbeek@pandora.be


Knokke  ( Knokke-Het Zoute )



The seaside resort town of Ostend lived up to its name of “Queen of Beaches” most worthily in the 19th and first half of the 20th century, drawing large numbers of vacationers.  These included Jews from across the Channel as well as a considerable number of members of Belgium’s Jewish community.  Starting in the 1950s, however, another Belgian coastal town, Knokke-Het Zoute (or “Le Zoute” in French), gradually replaced Ensor’s birthplace as “the place to be.”  Knokke-Het Zoute, which was more and more popular, became a real magnet for Belgium’s Jewish community.

To be able to meet their religious obligations, the town’s Jewish tourists improvised.  However charming the little prayer rooms that they set up might be, they eventually proved insufficient to meet the needs of an increasingly numerous and influential community.  The need for a recognized, organized community with a synagogue worthy of the name became obvious.

The official Jewish Community of Knokke took shape after the usual lengthy procedures.  The Royal Decree granting this recognition was signed December 10, 1998.  Since then, the community has continued to fare well and functions all year long, since its members do not need to wait for summer to go to the coast.  The invigorating air, magnificent beaches, wonderful walks, Zwin ornithological reserve, and pleasant mood of relaxation that characterize Knokke attract more and more people on holidays, weekends, and even every day of the year.  Choosing to reside in Knokke-Het Zoute is no longer the exclusive privilege of a few wealthy families in need of a seaside pick-me-up!

There is a kosher restaurant Steinmetz, Piers de Raveschootlaan 129




Synagogue and mikva'ot'oth
Located at Van
Bunnenlaan 30



Koksijde aan zee

This is a kosher vacation camp for children, Damesweg 10 and is run by the 'Centrale'

Le Chateau de Dongelberg


The following 4 people who were hidden in an orphanage called Le Chateau de Dongelberg in Belgium. I have some photos of the children that lived there that I'm sure they would like to have.

SZENKLEWSKI, Nelly born Aug. 14, 1943 in Brussels
PIENICA, Elisabeth born March 13, 1937 in Antwerp
ROSENCWEIG, Rachel born September 24, 1942 in Borgerhaut
KRYGIER, Michele born September 6, 1942 in Brussels

If you know any of these individuals or their families, please contact me privately. Felicia P. Zieff tzippy_chs@sbcglobal.net   Association of Descendants of the Shoah - Illinois, Inc.

Searching Hidden Children from Le Chateau de Dongelberg, Belgium





There was no organized Jewish community in Liège before the early 19th century.  France’s annexation of the Episcopal principality then ensured the Jews’ presence and civil and political equality.  The number of Jewish families living in Liège is thus put at eight in 1808 and 220 in 1890.  Most of them originally came from Dutch Limburg (50%), Prussia, and Alsace-Lorraine.  During this period the Jewish community answered to the Jewish community of Maastricht, which itself belonged to the Consistory of Krefeld.

Various buildings served as places of worship.  The Province of Liège’s Almanach mentions Jewish prayer halls in the following streets:  Rue Souverain-Pont, Rue de la Régence, and Rue Pierreuse.  The City of Liège helped defray these venues’ rental costs starting in 1867.  Formal recognition of the Jewish Community of Liège came about in 1876 with the Royal Decree of February 7.  In 1878 the community set up its headquarters in the Outre-Meuse neighborhood, where the abandoned chapel of the former Saint Julian’s Hospice, which had been turned into a grain market at the time of the French Revolution, became a synagogue.  The café built on the site still bears the name “Café du Temple. The current synagogue, which was designed in Neo-Tuscan style by the architect Joseph Rémont, was inaugurated on August 18, 1899.  It is in Rue Léon Frédéricq, a stone’s throw away from the city’s current Convention Center, and has been listed as a noteworthy monument by the Walloon Region.  The rare documents of the time that have survived, including a guest book, show that the community consisted primarily of prominent citizens.

Synagogue and Kehila
Located at rue Leon Fredericq 19. 
The Community Centre and Entraide Juive (Jewish mutual help) Located at
12 Quai Marcellis (also a shelter)

Musee Serge Kruglanski
19 rue Leon Fredericq




@ Efraïm Schmitt

The Dossinkazerne is an army garrison that was used by the Nazis as a transit camp for Jews to be sent to one of the death camps and is currently being converted into a Deportation Museum.  Malines/Mechelen, transit camp established by the Nazis in Belgium, between its two largest Jewish communities, Antwerp and Brussels, in October 1941 to concentrate Jews before transporting them to Eastern Europe. An infrastructure was already in place and a railway line led directly to the camp, which became an antechamber to death. The camp was surrounded by local inhabitants. The first group of Belgium Jews was arrested on July 22 and taken to Breendonck and then to Malines. The first transport from Mechelen was on August 4, 1942, and arrived in  Auschwitz on August 6. According to a list in the Mechelen archive, between August 4, 1942 and July 1944 there were 28 transports to the east with more than 25,257 Jews; some gypsies were transported in 1943 and 1944. All the inmates of the camp had to wear identification badges. The badges differed for the Jews in the camp. The various known symbols were: T = Transport-Juden (Jews who would be sent to the east), Z = citizens of the Allied countries or neutral countries, E = Entscheidungsfalle, borderline cases, whose identity required further investigation,  G = Gefaehrliche Juden (dangerous Jews to be sent to punishment camps elsewhere). Jews who were married to non-Jews were sent to Drancy in German-occupied France. Members of the Committee for Jewish Defense (CDJ) which was in contact with the Belgian resistance movement, and the Catholic fighters' organization, penetrated into Mechelen a number of times in order to warn the inmates and try to liberate them. The organized Jewish community sent in packages. The camp was finally liberated by the Allies in September 1944; a few hundred Jews had managed to survive




Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance in Belgium
Located in Mechelen, Daniel Dratwa
or Bob Drilsma
b.drilsma@innet.be or
Marcel Apsel
Ms. Laurence Schram is the archivist and historian.

The museum has available many files including various Registers of Jews, a Library of various genealogical periodicals, many records and a photo archive of about 12,000 photos.

"Joods Museum van Deportatie en Verzet"
Located in Mechelen and holds list of deported Jews.  They are very helpful with providing information.. 


Joods Museum Van Deportatie en Verzet
Goswin de Stassartstraat 153
Mechelen, Belgium
Phone: (015) 29 06 60
Fax: (015) 29 08 76
Email: pmj@link.be



There is a small Jewish Community that hold regular services. It is near to the Casteau the International Chapel of NATO AEs Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.  Information: Shape, 7010, Belgium.



Some historians mention Jews — originally part of the Roman army’s rear-guard — as having settled in Belgium as early as the 4th Century CE. But written evidence only goes back to the 13th century. (A Hebrew tombstone has been found dating to 1255, street names such as “rue des Juifs” have been recorded, and there is at least one known expulsion order dating from that time.) The community was devastated by the usual blood libels, mass burnings, and forced conversions (one of these “heroic” episodes, involving supposed torturing of the Host in 1370, is “glorified” to this day in the stained glass windows of Saint-Gudule Cathedral in Brussels). Marranos settled in the port of Antwerp in the 16th century, and lived in semi-toleration until given religious and civil rights at the end of the 18th century by the Austrian emperor Joseph II’s “Edict of Tolerance” and then emancipated by French revolutionary (later Napoleonic) law. Upon independence in 1831, the newly established parliamentary regime lost little time in recognizing Judaism as an official religious denomination (together with Catholicism, Protestantism, later Greek and Russian Orthodox Christianity and Islam). The influx of East European Jewish immigrants, and later refugees, swelled the Jewish population to approximately 85,000-90,000 on the eve of WW II. Many were able to flee before the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940, but more than 25,000 perished in the Shoah.

Today, about 40,000 Jews live in Belgium, with the main centers in Brussels, the capital, and in Antwerp, a leading European center of traditional orthodox Jewry. There are scattered small Jewish communities in Knokke, Ostend, Ghent, Liege, Charleroi, Arlon, Waterloo, and Mons.


Beth Loubavitch Athis-Mons
Athis-Mons, 91200 France
Phone: 33-1-69-38-19-75




The history of the Jewish community of Ostend is more or less tantamount to that of the Jewish community of West FlandersOstend (Oostende / Ostende) was effectively the only place in this province where Jews organized their own genuine, recognized community prior to the end of the 20th century, with the exception of the recent developments in Knokke-Het Zoute.  There is no certainty as to the Jewish presence in the County of Flanders in the Middle Ages, although Brugge was on the trade route linking Cologne and London in the 12th and 13thcenturies, and both these cities had Jewish populations.  The density of the steady stream of traders between England and the Rhine Valley was, however, sufficient cause for Jews to pass through Brugge from time to time.  However, no tangible proof that a Jewish community lived in this town has been found to date.  Then came the Burgundian and Spanish periods, but once again without any traces of Jewish communities in West Flanders.  It is possible that a certain number of Conversos or “new Christians” (such as the humanist Luis Vives) stayed in Brugge in the 16th and 17th centuries, but we still have no clear proof of this.

The situation became a little clearer at the end of the Austrian occupation, for as of 1781 Ezechiel de Jongh and Salomon Mendes of Amsterdam, along with Henry Hendrik and Emmanuel Lyon of Germany, petitioned Ostend to become citizens of the town.  After the usual stalling, their requests were granted.

After the French Revolution the Jews’ situation in Ostend remained murky:  Some Jews were granted civic rights, but it is not known whether this was done in the coastal town of Ostend.  Slightly after Belgium became independent, the 1831 constitution placed the Jewish faith on equal footing with the other recognized faiths and the Jewish Central Consistory became an official institution.  The Jewish communities of Antwerp, Arlon, Ghent, Brussels, and Liège were not long in getting official recognition.  The fact that Ostend was not included in this batch proves that the coastal town did not yet have the necessary quorum.  However, Ostend, which became known as “the Queen of Beaches,” ended up drawing a certain number of Jews in the course of the 19th  century.  Precise figures are not known, but some tombstones dating back to this period were discovered recently and will doubtless fill in the gaps.

At the end of the 19th century some 300 Jewish families could be found in Ostend during the summer season.  This new situation prompted King Leopold II to make an annex of a former royal palace available to house a small synagogue.  The king recognized the Jewish Community of Ostend a few years later, through the Royal Decree of June 5, 1904, by which time some 100-150 Jews resided permanently in the seaside town.  In the summer, the number of Jews in Ostend could rise to as much as 1500-2000 due to the influx of vacationers.  The community was granted a permit to build a “real” synagogue on December 10, 1910.  Designed by the Jewish architect Joseph De Langue, the synagogue of Ostend was inaugurated officially on August 29, 1911.  It is located on the square Filip van Maastrichtplein and has continued to operate to this day.

Services are held in July and August at the synagogue located at
Maastrichtplein 3
21, B-8400
Contact: Secretary Liliane Wulfowicz Parklaan





Roubaix is known as “l’Enfer du Nord” which translates to “The Hell of the North.” That expression came from the soldiers who were posted there during WW I. The rough farm tracks and cobbled lanes that are used are what was left after the bombing in World War 1.





The Vecht family: parents Henrietta and Philip, children Rosette and Romeo. Taken in Spa, Belgium, in 1943


The English word "spa" comes from the Belgian town of the same name.  Spa is renowned for its healing hot springs.



Zaventem (Brussels National Airport)




There is a synagogue in the Airport transit hall.



General  Belgium


Archives - General State Archives - in Brussels

Lewis Baratz, in a posting to JewishGen of Feb 10, 1999, stated that "as a Fulbright Scholar, Belgium has remarkable archives, probably second only to the UK, and the documents are highly accessible." 

Liege Archive
In the Francophone community which is a bit less likely to prioritize a foreign request - language reasons, primarily.


Stadsarchief Antwerpen
(City Archive of Antwerp, Belgium)





Belgium Jewish History





Belgium and Dutch Jews

They were sometimes called Black Dutch in America because they spoke Dutch or Flemish and were darker than the other Dutch and Flemish. They had only recently moved to the Netherlands and Belgium (then Spanish Netherlands) from Iberia (Portugal and Spain). When Spain annexed Portugal for a while, many Portuguese Jews fled to Spanish Flanders to escape the Inquisition or Flanders as part of Spanish Netherlands).







Most, like the famous philosopher Baruch Spinoza, crossed into Protestant Netherlands for greater freedom of expression and religion. For more on Spinoza. These Sephardic Jews were, on the average, darker than the Ashkenazic Jews of northern Europe, so an explanation like Black Dutch suited them well.

Belgium and its Jews During the War



Belgium-Roots Project

Created for the purpose of assisting the descendants of Belgian emigrants/immigrants living abroad in tracing their Belgian roots and exploring their Belgian heritage



Belgian Society for Jewish Genealogy

Genealogy and Family History
In the Benelux Jewish Museum of Belgium
On-line Archives in Flanders, Belgium
City Archives of Antwerp in Belgium
City Records of Mechelen in Belgium
Shoah Museum in Belgium - GeneaNet




Daniel Dratwa is the President and is also the Conservator of the Jewish Museum of Belgium.

Belgian Tourist Office

Jewish cultural organizations, synagogues, Shoah memorials, 24-hour radio station information


Central Jewish Welfare Organization

B-Antwerp 2018, Belgium

Digital Resources for Belgium

Contains a huge amount of resources including passenger lists  



The Emigrants from Belgium to the United States and Canada



European Council of Jewish Communities




European Visual Archive (EVA)

The European Visual Archive  is a searchable image resource containing historical photographs dating from 1840 up to today. The photographs originate from the collections of the London Metropolitan Archives and the Stadsarchief Antwerpen. Currently EVA contains 18.028 descriptions of digitized photographs.  The site is available in English, French, Dutch, German, Italian, and Spanish.


This is a discussion group and there is a lot of information about Jewish genealogical research in France, French Colonies and French-speaking areas including Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland.   





Has a list of names from the Brussels Archives.  These lists are indexes for the dictionary of genealogy and biography and are important because immigrants to Brussels came from all over Europe including: France (Paris, Alsace, Lorraine), Netherlands, England, Germany, Eastern Europe, Turkey, North Africa and even America.


Index of Jewish Family Names and Family Search Indicators

Compiled by Claude C. Geudevert, is partially available at the GenAmi website  

This is an index providing an alphabetical list of family names, along with the first location where an individual or family is known to have arrived from, or has proved to have lived prior to coming to Brussels.



Jewish Cemeteries

Based on various sources, there are no Jewish cemeteries in Belgium.  This information was also based on a Belgian Law that requires a cemetery to be dug up, or destroyed, after a period of 49 years.  Most Belgian Jews were buried in Holland.



US Military Cemetery
Henri La Chapelle US Military Cemetery



Jewish Genealogical Society of Belgium

Daniel Dratwa, President
74 Avenue Stalingrad
B-1000 Bruxelles, Belgique 
Phone: 32 2 512 19 63  Fax: 32 2 513 48 59




Jewish Museum of Belgium (Joods Museum van Belgie)

Genealogy and exhibition links and choose language of choice. The JMB has a card-index system of 65,000 Jews who lived in Belgium in November, 1940. The Museum has many other lists according to the web site. Daniel Dratwa Email: d.dratwa@mjb-jmb.org





Jewish Secular Community Center

B-1060 Brussels


Jewish Social Services

B-1060 Brussels



List of family names up to 1900



  Belgium Maps 


Open Street Maps
The crowd-sourced mapping project OpenStreetMap has amassed a million contributors since its inception in 2005 and, according to navigation app maker Skobbler, boasts greater accuracy in England, Russia and Germany than rivals such as Google Maps.  I tried the site and found an accurate drawing of my father's ancestral town Tal'ne, Ukraine.  Almost every country is available as is most towns





Search Sites




Society for Jewish Genealogy in Belgium




Yiddish Newspapers

"Yiddishe Tseitoung" was published in Antwerp and Brussels.  Copies of the paper may be found at the Hebrew University in Cincinnati.





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