Dutch Masorti group evicted with a final shofar blow
A JEWISH community in the Netherlands was evicted from the historic building that houses its synagogue this week after failing to agree a deal with the site’s new owner to stay.
Congregants from the small community in Deventer, in the eastern province of Overijssel, were shown carrying out the Sefer Torah and ark from the building and loading them into a van in a live social media broadcast.
Last month the local council rejected an application from the site’s new owner to convert the building into a food hall.
The community had been in talks with entrepreneuer Ayhan Sahin about the possibility of staying on the site, but they failed to reach an agreement.
Mr Sahin is understood to have been willing to allow the synagogue to remain if they paid full rent for it — a rate the Beth Shoshanna community, which has held services at the site for nearly a decade, could not afford.
A few of the community members who came to witness the move on Monday sang Hebrew songs as their posessions were carried out.
“It’s a very heavy feeling that this thing can happen here in 2018,” Tom Furstenberg, the community’s chairman, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Mr Furstenberg was seen in the live broadcast wearing a tallit as he blew a shofar for the last time outside the building. He then helped carry the portable ark into the van.
An announcement on Beth Shoshanna’s Facebook page said the community had been invited to join an existing synagogue in the city of Raalter, about 15 kilometres away from Deventer. According to Beth Shoshanna’s website, the congregation — which is Masorti — offers Shabbat evening and morning services once every three weeks.
Last month Deventer City Council decided Mr Sahin’s planning application to create a food hall inside was “inconsistent with the building’s character.”
The businessman purchased the the 126-year-old building in a public auction this January after the previous owner, a local church, wanted to sell. The council did initially consider buying it, but subsequently withdrew from the auction, leaving Mr Sahin as the only bidder.
It was constructed in a Moorish style in 1892 and initially had both a Star of David and an Islamic half crescent on the towers, reflecting a period when worshippers of different religions lived peacefully with one another, according to
De Volksrant columnist Margriet Osstveen.
But after the outbreak of the Second World War, the synagogue was ransacked by members of the Dutch Nazi Party in full view of police officers. 401 of the nearly 600 Jews living in Deventer died in the Holocaust and by 1943, the city had no remaining Jewish residents.
The building was sold the Christian Reformed Church, a Protestant movement in the Netherlands, in 1951.
The present Masorti community first started renting the space for services and celebrations in 2010.
The new owner wants to create a food hall
Tom Furstenberg blows the shofar as he carries scroll outside