New synagogue replaces church near Amsterdam

THE HAGUE (JTA) — Several hundred Dutch Jews attended the dedication of a new synagogue at what used to be a Protestant church south of Amsterdam.

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The Dec. 9 opening of the New Synagogue of Amstelveen in the southern suburb of the Dutch capital followed several years of renovation work on the building, which once housed the Bankras church.

The Jewish Community of Amsterdam, or NIHS, bought the building in 2008 for $3.25 million, according to the Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad, a Jewish weekly. It accommodates 400 congregants and “is open to all denominations” despite its “moderate Orthodox signature,” according to a statement by the NIHS.

The New Synagogue of Amstelveen, also known as the Bankras Shul, replaces an older synagogue,  “The old synagogue at the Kostverlorenhof was too small,” NIHS said in explaining the move. The suburb’s Jewish community numbers several thousand.

Next month the synagogue is scheduled to hold an “open day,” during which non-Jews would be invited to tour the building and learn about Judaism.

The ceremony marked the third opening in three years of a synagogue in and around Amsterdam. In March 2011, the neighbourhood of Buitenveldert saw the opening of the Amos Shul, an Orthodox institution. The previous year, the Liberal Jewish Community of Amsterdam opened a large Reform synagogue in the city’s south.

The Netherlands has a Jewish population of approximately 40,000 people.

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