• Jewish Museum of Belgium
Established in 1990, the Jewish Museum in Brussels presents the history of Jews in Belgium.
Image: Brussels, undated, Facade of the Jewish Museum,  Musée Juif de Belgique
Brussels, undated, Facade of the Jewish Museum, Musée Juif de Belgique
According to written sources, Jews have lived on the area of today's Belgium since the 13th century, it is assumed, however, that the first Jews arrived with the Romans at the beginning of the first millennium. Despite recurring periods of persecution and expulsion during the Middle Ages, the small Jewish community survived. Many Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugal settled here at the beginning of the 16th century. The Jews were granted more rights from 1713, during the Habsburg rule, and then from 1795 as citizens of France. After the state of Belgium was established in 1830, a liberal constitution was passed in 1831 granting freedom of worship. At the turn of the century, the small Jewish community grew due to large-scale immigration from Eastern Europe. In the 1930s, many Jews from Poland, Germany, Austria and Romania came to Belgium, a majority of them as refugees. When the German Wehrmacht invaded Belgium in 1940, there were about 55,000 Jews residing in the kingdom, however, only about six per cent of them had Belgian citizenship. The Belgian authorities only rarely stood up for foreign Jews, which is why they were most harshly affected by anti-Jewish measures and relatively more of them fell victim to deportations and murder than Jews with Belgian citizenship. From September 1943 on, Belgian Jews too were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, though many were able to go into hiding, thanks to the help of citizens and of the resistance movement. Only 23 per cent of Jews with Belgian citizenship were deported; in comparison, almost half of the foreign Jews living in Belgium were deported. In all, 25,124 Jews were deported from Belgium. Fewer than five per cent of them survived. After the war, the Jewish community had to be formed anew. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in Belgium.
Image: Brussels, undated, Facade of the Jewish Museum,  Musée Juif de Belgique
Brussels, undated, Facade of the Jewish Museum, Musée Juif de Belgique
The museum commemorates the role which Jews have for centuries played in Belgium's history and culture; it also honours the victims of the persecution of Jews during the Second World War.
Image: Brussels, undated, Visitors to the exhibition, Musée Juif de Belgique
Brussels, undated, Visitors to the exhibition, Musée Juif de Belgique
The Jewish Museum of Belgium was opened in 1990. Its establishment was initiated by the non-profit association »Pro Museo Judaico«, which had been founded in 1982. In May 2004, the museum was reopened in the historic quarter of Brussels, with an extended permanent exhibition. For this purpose, the Belgian government had made a building - which had previously housed a German school and storage space for a museum of musical instruments - available to the Jewish community.
Image: Brussels, 2006, View of the permanent exhibition, Stiftung Denkmal
Brussels, 2006, View of the permanent exhibition, Stiftung Denkmal

Name
Musée Juif de Belgique
Address
21 rue des Minimes
1000 Bruxelles
Phone
+32 (0)251 219 63
Web
http://www.new.mjb-jmb.org
E-Mail
z.seewald@mjb-jmb.org
Open
Tuesday to Sunday: 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., closed on Monday.
Possibilities
Permanent exhibition, special exhibitions, cultural events, guided tours and workshops, library, archive