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Belgium with a population of about 10.7 million, is about the size of the State of Maryland. It is a multilingual country with Dutch as the primary language in the northern half, known as the Flemish Region. French 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.
Today, Belgium has the fourth largest Jewish community in Europe - a country that is the size of Maryland.
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com may be contacted for additional information according to a posting to JewishGen
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
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.
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
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 old 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:
(site is in French and Dutch only)
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.
Communaute Israelite Orthodoxe de Bruxelles
67a rue de la Clinique
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
Synagogue and a Kehila at
56 rue Pige au Croly
Contact: Sec: M. Weinberg 65 rue van der Velde, 6300 Marchiennes
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.
Located at St. Elizabethplein 11.
Contact is J. Bloch, Veldstraat 60
Telephone: 09 225 70 85
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
There is a kosher restaurant Steinmetz, Piers de Raveschootlaan 129
Synagogue and mikva'ot'oth
Located at Van
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Association of Descendants of the Shoah - Illinois, Inc.
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
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.
Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance in Belgium
Located in Mechelen, Daniel Dratwa
or Bob Drilsma email@example.com or
Marcel Apsel firstname.lastname@example.org
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
Phone: (015) 29 06 60
Fax: (015) 29 08 76
Email: : email@example.com
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.
Services are held in July and August at the synagogue located at
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 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 transit hall.
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 around the country. The most active team consisted of 12 women, mostly non-Jewish, who hid 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 Andrée Geulen, and recently, a great number of the children who were hidden, celebrated her 90th 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.
Composed shortly before the event, this song, 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 Aïda 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 Andrée for her birthday. "After the war, she married a Jewish attorney, they were blessed with two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and to this day she is surrounded by the love of the children she rescued."
Suddenly, he decided to write her a poem.
The warmth of the water and the atmosphere brought lines tumbling into his mind. He burst into the hotel room and asked his wife, Dahlia, to transcribe before the lines could "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 written telling Andrée'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, who was moved to tears. She said that it was suitable for setting to music and that she would sing it. She recommended Rafi Kadishzon, a well-known composer. Rafi heard the poem, liked it, and 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, refrain, and to the perfect fit of the lyrics.
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... thanks to my North High School buddy, Al Isenberg. Sorry about the commercial.
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."
In the Francophone community which is a bit less likely to prioritize a foreign request - language reasons, primarily.
(City Archive of Antwerp, Belgium)
DIGITAL RONBEWERKINGE D B N N NETHERLANDS AND BELGIË
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
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jewish Secular Community Center
Jewish Social Services
List of family names up to 1900
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
Society for Jewish Genealogy in Belgium
"Yiddishe Tseitoung" was published in Antwerp and Brussels. Copies of the paper may be found at the Hebrew University in Cincinnati.
more to come ...
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