The galleries of the Great Synagogue feature a new presentation on the history of the Jews of the Netherlands from 1600 to 1900, shown in a chronological display. The subsequent period, from 1900 to modern times, will eventually appear on the galleries of the New Synagogue.
The central theme is what it has meant to be a Jew in the Netherlands over the centuries. Where did the Jewish newcomers who arrived in the Dutch Republic, and especially in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, come from? How did these Jewish migrants organize themselves as a community in this dynamic economic city? What kind of opportunities did they find? And how were they restricted?
Objects from the museum collection and many important items on loan highlight historic personalities such as Baruch Spinoza, Menasse ben Israël, Sjabtai Tsvi, Lopes Suasso, Mozes Salomon Asser, Jonas Daniël Meijer, Daniël Henriques de Castro and A.C. Wertheim. The stories about the first Jews to come to the Netherlands, about assimilation and integration, cultural interchange with non-Jews and the preservation of their Jewish identity are themes that remain topical today in contemporary situations and debates.
An audiotour provides additional information on the exhibition.