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NIHS Brabant cemeteries

The following cemeteries are under our management
and can only be accessed by appointment.

  • Eindhoven, Groenewoudseweg 4​ and Grote Beek

  • Vught, Berkenheuveldreef 12 

  • Oisterwijk, Hondsbergselaan

Get in touch to schedule an appointment.

Current Jewish cemeteries in Eindhoven

Woensel

The Jewish cemetery of Eindhoven-Woensel is surrounded by an impressive wall. Located in the district of Woensel, this cemetery has a rich history. On Monday, October 7, 1771, on behalf of His Highness, the Prince of Orange and Nassau, it was decided to bury members of the Jewish community on this heathland in Woensel. The site is recognized as a national monument and contains 330 tombstones.

In earlier times, Jews were forbidden to settle in Eindhoven, and even staying overnight was not allowed. This led to Stadtholder Willem V demanding an end to this practice in 1772. It was not until 1796 that Jews were granted equal rights as other citizens. Due to the original prohibition, Jews settled in surrounding villages where synagogues and Jewish cemeteries could be found, such as in Helmond and Tongelre.

In 1771, the Jewish cemetery in Woensel was legalized. It is located just north of the current Eindhoven Strijp-S Station, on Groenewoudseweg. On this walled cemetery, there is a building from 1910 known as a metaheerhuis (a house used for ritual purification). The wall also dates back to 1910. The oldest graves date from the first half of the 19th century. Between 1854 and 1945, the graves were marked with numbered poles with Hebrew characters. Most graves have natural stone tombstones, with the oldest ones only having a Hebrew inscription following the Jewish calendar. Later graves have inscriptions in both Hebrew and Dutch, with dates according to the current Gregorian calendar.

Several specific areas in the cemetery are designated for the kohanim, the priestly class. Although the cemetery is clearly visible from Eindhoven Strijp-S Station, it is not accessible to visitors.

 

 

Grote Beek

On the grounds of the Psychiatric Hospital De Grote Beek on Boschdijk, there is a cemetery that was used for patients and staff of the hospital. Based on religious beliefs, people were strictly buried separately, which led to a separate Jewish section with two graves. Although reportedly more Jews were buried there (approximately 25), no tombstones have been preserved for them.

The cemetery was forgotten for a long time. In the past, people with psychiatric conditions were often shunned by their families. There was shame associated with having a 'mentally ill family member,' and their existence was not publicized, even after their death. Many were even buried anonymously in a grave marked only with a number.

Fortunately, the cemetery has now been inventoried. All buried individuals, totaling more than 1800, have had their names restored on a monument unveiled in late 2008.

 

Current Jewish cemetery in Vught

The Jewish cemetery in the Dutch municipality of Vught is located on Berkenheuveldreef. Although Vught has never had an independent Jewish community, the cemetery belongs to the Jewish community of NIHS Brabant. The cemetery has been in use since 1771, but it was only in 1790 that the Jews of Den Bosch received official permission to bury their deceased here after repeatedly requesting their own cemetery.

According to the website of the Dutch Jewish Genealogy Society, it is stated that 82 tombstones have been preserved, but this is incorrect. The book "Verborgen in Brabantse bodem" (see source) mentions a number of 435 tombstones, as well as some memorial stones. These memorial stones do not mark graves but serve as a remembrance. The cemetery is fully enclosed by walls and is not accessible to the public.

 

In 1984, a monument designed by Otto Treumann was unveiled at Vught station in remembrance of the Jews who were deported from there. Additionally, Vught is known for Kamp Vught, a significant reminder of the dark period of World War II.

Current Jewish cemetery in Oisterwijk

The Jewish cemetery in the Dutch municipality of Oisterwijk is located on Hondsbergselaan in the province of Noord-Brabant. This cemetery, managed by the Foundation for Jewish Burial Services Brabant, has been in existence since 1761. In 1985, the cemetery was included in the register of national monuments, and a large-scale restoration took place between 2012 and 2018.

History: The first Jewish residents of Oisterwijk were Salomon Simon and David Hartig. Soon, more Jewish families followed, mainly Ashkenazi Jews from Germany, Bohemia, and Moravia. These families were engaged in various occupations such as butchers, traders, peddlers, and market vendors, with Oisterwijk serving as their base. The history of Jewish burials in Oisterwijk began with the death of a Jewish resident in 1748, who was buried in an area called 'De Poelen'. In 1761, the adjacent plot called 'Achter de Boeijens' was purchased for 10 guilders to expand the Jewish cemetery. Jekoetiel Zuskind Rofe, the first Chief Rabbi of Brabant appointed in 1757, had Oisterwijk as his base. The Jewish community grew steadily, counting 24 families in 1764 and as many as 89 families in 1809.

In the 19th century, the cemetery was vandalized several times. In 1886, a wall with an iron gate was built for which 2600 guilders were raised. Mr. Abraham De Balbian Verster, the Oisterwijk magistrate and elder of the Protestant Church, played a significant role in supporting the Jewish community in establishing an association, constructing the wall, and acquiring the land surrounding the cemetery.

In 1885, half of the cemetery was taken over by the Association Israelitische begraafplaats Oisterwijk, established in the same year. Around 1929, the association became the full owner of the cemetery. However, the number of association members steadily declined as most Jewish residents of Oisterwijk had already moved to Tilburg before 1940. After World War II, hardly anyone remained. At the beginning of the 21st century, there was only one member left, who also served as the sole board member. In 2014, the association merged with the Foundation for Jewish Burial Services Brabant.

Restoration: The walled cemetery covers an area of approximately 2500 m² and is situated in a wooded area of around 9000 m². Over 200 individuals have been buried there, with 165 tombstones present. The metaheerhuis (building for ritual washing and preparation of the deceased) was replaced by the current building in 1915. During the second half of the 20th century, the tombstones suffered significant damage due to vandalism and lack of maintenance. In 1997, restoration work was carried out on the stones wherever possible.

The cemetery was threatened by encroaching nature, with large trees pressing against the walls and trees growing among the tombstones. There were also damages caused by frost and leaks in the roof of the metaheerhuis, with rotting wooden rafters and walls affected by moisture. Due to a lack of maintenance, the Israelitische begraafplaats association was unable to reverse the situation.

In 2012, the Foundation for Preservation of the Jewish Cemetery was established with the aim of restoring the cemetery to ensure its preservation for the next fifty years. Between 2012 and 2018, trees were felled, over 200 meters of wall were restored, the metaheerhuis was fully repaired, a fence was erected around the cemetery, the access road was paved, and an entrance gate was built.

 

The cemetery is now accessible to visitors and is open throughout the day from May 1st to October 1st. The graves have been inventoried, and records and registers have been compiled, helping to trace descendants. Increasingly, they are visiting the centuries-old resting place of their ancestors. Guided tours are provided, schools are welcomed, and open days are organized. Additionally, a branch of the Anne Frank tree has been planted, and a storage facility has been built next to the cemetery for maintenance and storage purposes.

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