Portugese Synagoge The Hague
Photo: Ido Menco


Den Haag counted not one, but two Jewish neighbourhoods. There was a large community in the Spui-Haven-area (the Wagenstraat and the Veerkades), called ‘de Buurt’. The second, much smaller one, was around the Nieuwe Uitleg (Smidswater). The ‘Nieuwe Uitleg’ area was mainly populated by ‘Portuguese Jews’. These Jews came to the Low Lands (Holland) late in the 16th century because in 1580 Portugal had become part of Spain. The Spaniards persecuted anyone who wasn’t a Roman Catholic or refused to become one. The term ‘Portuguese Jews’ equally covers Jews from Spain, Turkey and Thessaloniki. These ‘Sephardic’ Jews spoke their own language, ‘Ladino’, based on medieval Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic. In The Netherlands the Sephardic Jews spoke mainly Portuguese. After about 1670 Jews from Eastern Europe started to come to The Hague as well. Most of them settled in the area behind the ‘Spui’. These were called the Asjkenazi Jews and they spoke predominantly Jiddisch.