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Tuesday 5.3.11 – My Birthday And The Joods Histoirsch Museuem

Today we went to the Joods Historich Museum which is actually comprised of four old synagogues all in the same area.  While the Portuguese synagogue is across the street the other 3 are all connected.  The first thing we did was we got to see the original painting of my 2nd great grandfather Barend Polak  and took various group shots with it in the middle.  Afterwards we all went our separate ways to explore the museum at our own pace.  I was most interested in seeing the permanent exhibit showcasing Jewish Amsterdam before 1900 mostly to see if there was any mention of any ancestors and to just learn how they lived.  After exploring that area and the area that was the former Ashkenazi synagogue we went to have a quick bite to eat which happened to be near the “mediatheek.”   In this area you could ask to see old documents acquired by the museum.  There was one in particular I wanted to see, the bar mitzvah menu for my grandmother’s cousin, Julius Keizer son of Emma Polak and Behrend Keizer.   However when I asked to see it I discovered there was a lot more that they had in relation the Keizer family.  Apparently this packet of original documents from the early 1900’s was laying on a park bench addressed to the museum and someone found it and delivered it.  My grandmother’s sister Edith, who had visited the museum before didn’t know these documents existed and was thrilled to see them because unlike Max Henri’s and Roza’s family she barely saw her Aunt Emma’s family as they lived in another part of the country.  In the packet itself there was more than just the one menu, but 3, one was clean, one had Beherend or Barend’s speech on the back, and the last had the signatures of the family members who attended.  Also in the packet were the birth announcements for Albertine and Julius, letters from Barend congratulating Emma on the new arrivals, and some other things that escape my memory right now.  There was one very surprising document, an engagement announcement for Albertine to Walter Mozes on February 2, 1941 which was about 2 years before she was murdered in Sobibor.  Seeing this actually brought a couple tears to Edith’s daughter Lena’s eyes.  After getting copies of some of the more interesting documents (we have a connection in the museum we can always get the other stuff copied for us) my mother and I went to the Portuguese synagogue which was under renovation.  My mom commented that it seemed too big but I mentioned that it was built around the time of the Spanish Inquisition and was probably built to look like a church in case anything happened.  After we took pictures of the inside we went back to the main building to walk around the outside to try to find this mysterious cornerstone that has the name of on my direct ancestors through Elisabeth Lob (daughter of the previously mentioned Keetje Benjamins.)  However just like my aunt Edith and her grandson Ofer, we had no such luck.  So we went back into the building and I went back down to the “mediatheek” to inquire about it but they had no idea, so when I get home I will e-mail our “connection” in the museum about this and a few other things.

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