Peaches Prattlings

{June 22, 2017}   Amsterdam…Day Six

What a day! Lots to do, let’s get started!

Today was all about being joodse, Jewish. We started in the Jewish Quarter at the Portuguese Jewish Synagogue.

The Portuguese Synagogue, also known as the Esnoga or Snoge, is a late 17th-century Sephardic synagogue in Amsterdam, completed in 1675. The Amsterdam Sephardic community was one of the largest and richest Jewish communities in Europe during the Dutch Golden Age, and their very large synagogue reflected this. 
We toured the catacombs, which housed texts, torahs, gowns, crowns and pointers. 

The gowns cover the Torah when it is closed and not in use, the crowns cover the finials, the ‘bars’ used to roll the Torah, the crowns have been referred to as the ‘bridegroom of the law’ and the pointers, which come in different designs, traditionally a finger, which is pointing, keeping your place as you read from the Torah. 

Next was a trip into the synagogue sanctuary itself. 

The inscription above the entrance is from Psalm 5:8: “In the abundance of Thy lovingkindness will I come into Thy house”.

This is a simple synagogue. Large in size, but simple in decoration. Very different from the synagogue in Hungary, not sure if you remember those images. 

The women sit upstairs, there is a separate entrance towards the back of the synagogue outside.

When Amsterdam started to become more and more populated with Jews, it became common for people to refer to it as the “New Jerusalem.” This nickname developed because of the Jewish life that Amsterdam was beginning to become fulfilled with. 

Next, we toured the rest of the complex. We saw the Boardroom, hats of the members of each delegate, the head rabbis throughout the life of the synagogue and Jewish community. We were able to tour different areas of what makes the synagogue and Jewish community run. 

The mikvah, this is the ritual bath for women, the winter synagogue, a sukkah, this is the structure built during the time of Sukkot, it is made of natural materials and will often have a thatched roof so you can see the sky when eating and give thanks. 

Next it was time for a bit of lunch at a nice out door cafe then back to the Jewish Quarter and the Jewish Museum. The ticket was clever, one ticket with for tabs for the four places to visit. I really didn’t like calling them atttactions.

The Jewish Museum was a mixture of paintings by Jewish artists, not depicting any Jewish themes I’m particular, just their work. There were historical pieces, some not easy to look at. 

I found it interesting that the doors would only open when the previous door closed, this was at two of the locations. 

After the Jewish Museum, went to the Holocaust Memorial and Museum. These were both difficult places to visit, but so important. 

The museum had artifacts and stories of those who had perished in the camps. Some of the items were given to friends to hold until they came home and as you can imagine, none of these were ever returned as so many thousands and millions of items like them. 

The one picture that I took was a quote from the poem, Peace by Leo Vroman: “Come tonight with that refrain about the ending of all war, sing it a hundred times or more and every time I’ll cry again”.

Across the street was the memorial, incredbly sobering. The tributes are powerful and seeing your family name sends chills down your body. I went behind the memorial to look at some photographs and it was as if the cats were keeping watch over something sacred.

If I tell you we had had enough somber moments, I hope you believe me. Touching, heartbreaking, tough, but necessary. If we forget, we risk repeating. 

We started to walk back to dad ahs LaLa’s hotel and drip, drop, call an Uber! Good thing because about 10 minutes after we got back, the sky opened up. The gods were bowling some strikes!

Finally, what do Jews do after temple, normally on Friday nights? Chinese food! We went to The Sea Palace and were very pleasantly surprised! The Asian food in Amsterdam has been fabulous!

After dinner, dessert and a pedi-cab ride, how much more fun can we have? I tell ya!

 One more day! The adventure continues! See you tomorrow!


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