Dutch Ma­sorti group evicted with a fi­nal sho­far blow

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MICHAEL DAVEN­TRY

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

PHOTO: FACE­BOOK

Tom Fursten­berg blows the sho­far as he car­ries scroll out­side

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