Four Ashkenazi synagogues (or shuls, as they are called in Yiddish), dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, were combined with glass-and-steel constructions in 1987 to create this warm and impressive museum commemorating the four-century history of the Jewish people in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Back in the 17th century, Ashkenazi Jews fled the pogroms in Central and Eastern Europe. They weren't exactly welcomed with open arms by the already settled Sephardic
Jews, who resented the increased competition imposed by their often poorer brethren; consequently separate synagogues were built. Four of them make up this complex: the Neie Sjoel (New Synagogue, 1752) shows the history of Jews in the Netherlands from 1900 until today; the Grote Sjoel (Great Synagogue, 1671) presents the tenets of Judaism as well as the history of Jews in the Netherlands before 1900; the Obbene Sjoel (Upstairs Synagogue, 1685) is home to the children's museum; and the Dritt Sjoel (Third Synagogue, 1700/1778) houses the museum's offices. The museum also features a resource center and one of the city's few purely kosher cafés. Whether or not you tour the collections or regular exhibitions, check out the excellent tours of the Jewish Quarter conducted by this museum.