It was a cold and eventually a somewhat sunny day when we visited Beth Haim (‘House of Life’). The cemetery of the Portuguese Jewish community is located in the small town of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, near Amsterdam. For over 400 years the community has been burying their members here which makes it one of the oldest still functioning Jewish cemeteries in Europe. Usually, I am mainly interested in the present day cemetery life but I was utterly impressed by the splendid 17th-century memorial stones. I have never seen anything like this!
On the oldest part one can also find the grave and tombstone of “bom servo Elieser” (the good servant/slave Eliezer) a black enslaved man that died in 1627 and was buried here – the stone was discovered in 2002. Here an interesting read about the position of black Africans in 17th century Amsterdam with details on Eliezer. The grave has become a slavery memorial and is visited as such.
more on Beth Haim:
A documentary on the cemetery (in Dutch)
All pictures are taken by Claudia Venhorst, December 1st 2017