NEW YORK -- Belgium Jewish Heritage, a new brochure from the
Belgian Tourist Office here, touches upon the country's history of
Jewish immigration and provides a handy reference to its Jewish
communities, notably in Antwerp and Brussels.
It is in those two cities where Belgium's Jewish population of
about 42,000 is concentrated, with about 20,000 Jews in Brussels
and 15,000 in Antwerp.
For both cities, the brochure lists the addresses and phone
numbers of synagogues; kosher restaurants and stores; Jewish
organizations, and culturally relevant attractions.
Those include the Belgian Jewish Museum and Museum of Jewish
Moroccan Art in Brussels, and Antwerp's Diamond Museum and
About 90% of Antwerp's Jewish inhabitants work in the diamond
industry, according to the brochure.
Annette Choynacki, deputy director of the Belgian Tourist
Office, said this is the first Jewish-interest brochure for the
country as a whole.
Choynacki said the brochure is targeted at those with interest
in their Jewish heritage "because we had Jewish immigration from
all of Europe during various centuries."
In discussing Belgium's Jewish history, the brochure notes the
waves of immigration in the 13th and 14th centuries by Jews
expelled from England and France, and in the 15th century by Jews
expelled from Spain and Portugal. In the last century, the Jewish
population of Belgium peaked at an estimated 65,000 by 1939, with
the arrival of German refugees.
"Many Americans have families that transited through Belgium and
do not realize that they still have connections there," she
For copies of the brochure, contact the Belgian Tourist Office
at (212) 758-8130; fax: (212) 355-7675; e-mail: [email protected], or see the Web at www.visitbelgium.com.