The Oldest Jewish Library Still in Use

January 9, 2024 | Heidi Warncke
About the author:

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Portuguese subjects whose ancestors had converted from Judaism to Catholicism began to settle in the Netherlands, which had recently won its independence from Spain, In the more tolerant atmosphere they found there, they began reverting to Judaism. This new Sephardi community opened a school in 1616, complete with a library. Six decades later, the library moved into the newly established Spanish and Portuguese synagogue, where it remains today—the world’s oldest active Jewish library. Heidi Warncke, in conversation with Avi Garson, discusses the library’s history and the story of the community that founded it, and shows some of its remarkable—and often beautiful—books, manuscripts, and artifacts. (Video, 69 minutes.)


Read more on The Ḥabura: