Communauté Israélite de Bruxelles
- Jewish Community of Brussels
An organised and officially recognised Jewish community existed in Brussels as of the early 19th century. Hartog Sommerhausen, a leading Dutch Jew and follower of the great German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, moved to Brussels in 1817. As the “brains” of the Jewish community, he immediately took things in hand and founded the Jewish Primary School, which the Dutch government honored with the title of “model school.” The capital of Brabant already had two Jewish cemeteries at the time.
In the aftermath of Belgium’s independence (in 1830), the community’s headquarters were established in a rented house. In 1834, the Chief Rabbi Elie Carmoly inaugurated a synagogue in Rue de Bavière (today’s Rue de Dinant). The building became the Maison du Peuple (”House of the People”) in 1886. Some forty-four years later, in 1878, Chief Rabbi Aristide Elie Astruc consecrated the new Main Synagogue of Brussels, in Rue de Régence, just two years after the Jewish Community of Brussels’s official recognition (Royal Decree of February 7, 1876). The Jewish Community of Brussels recently celebrated the 125th anniversary of the superb synagogue’s founding.
The Jewish Community of Brussels’s history, central location, and involvement within the broader Belgian Jewish community since its official recognition have contributed greatly to the fact that so many leading figures - leaders in our country’s Jewish community and in Belgian society in general - are to be found among its members past and present.
Open only by appointment
Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium website consulted on 24/07/2019
Pierre-Alain Tallier (dir.), Gertjan Desmet & Pascale Falek-Alhadeff, Sources pour l'histoire des populations juives et du judaïsme en Belgique/Bronnen voor de geschiedenis van de Joden en het Jodendom in België, 19de-21ste eeuw, Brussel, ARA-AGR/Avant-Propos, 2016, 1,328 p.