Jewish community to leave historic Deventer synagogue

Interior of the Grote Synagoge in Deventer
Interior of the Grote Synagoge in Deventer . (Photo: Apdency / Wikimedia Commons)

A previous headline misidentified the Deventer building as a mosque, not a synagogue. This error was corrected soon after.

Jewish congregation Beth Shoshanna has to leave the Grote Synagoge in Deventer. A controversial plan by the new owners to open a food hall in the historical building has been scrapped, but the community still has to leave and is moving to Raalte on Monday, Tom Furstenberg of Beth Shoshanna said to RTV Oost.

"It is unbelievable tat a Jewish community is removed from a synagogue in 2018. That's not normal, but it happens. After 1945 the Jewish community is just too small, too weak, to be able to resist", Furstenberg said to the broadcaster.

The departure of Beth Shoshanna is the outcome of a months-long argument. It started in May, when two entrepreneurs bought the building from 1892 to establish a food hall, according to NOS. Beth Shoshanna tried to raise money to buy the building itself, but failed because the new owners refused to negotiate. 

The municipality of Deventer stayed out of the conflict and limited itself to mediating between the two parties. Though the municipality did reject the new owners' application to establish a food hall in the building. 

Alderman Liesbeth Grijsen told De Stentor that the plans for a food hall do not fit with the city's catering policy and stance around national monuments and religious heritage. 

Furstenberg calls the rejection of the food hall plans good news but "too little too late". He denounced the municipality's wait-and-see attitude. "They could have done a lot more over the past years."

Beth Shoshanna has to be out of the synagogue by Wednesday. They are moving to Raalte on Monday. According to Furstenberg, a "beautiful 19th century synagogue" happened to be available in the village. "We are happy that we can continue to exist. We're doing what our ancestors did: look to the future, pack up your things and build a new life."

The new owners of the Grote Synagoge were not available to comment, according to NOS.