Growing up, I never experienced persecution like my ancestors. Yet their stories fuel my pride in living in a city that’s been a sanctuary for Jews since the 16th century.
My maternal grandparents Max and Alta were among the flood of Jews pushed out of Germany, Poland and Russia by antisemitic regimes. In Amsterdam, these Ashkenazi Jews soon outnumbered Sephardic Jews from the Iberian Peninsula.
Regardless of origin, most of these immigrants settled in the thriving Jewish Quarter around Waterlooplein, where Rembrandt lived at the height of his fame. While not Jewish himself, many of the iconic artist’s paintings reflect Jewish life, from Old Testament scenes to portraits of locals. Today his house on Jodenbreestraat is a museum replete with furniture, 17th-century objects and etchings.
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