Seven Famous Dutch Jewish People

Living in the Netherlands after a year but also doing a little research before moving here, it is nice to know and understand the history of the country. For this blog, I wanted to introduce and create a combination of famous people who represent Dutch society, but also proudly the Jewish community. These people represent different positions, responsibilities, and achievements in the Netherlands.

Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929)

The first woman officially to attend a Dutch university, she became one of the first female physicians in the Netherlands. Jacobs yearned to become a doctor like her father. Despite existing barriers, she fought to gain entry to higher education and graduated in 1879 with the first doctorate in medicine earned by a woman in the Netherlands. She opened a free clinic to educate poor women about hygiene and child care and in 1882 expanded her services to include the distribution of contraception information and devices.

Anne Frank (1929-1945)

Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1934, when she was four and a half, her family moved to Amsterdam. By May 1940, the Franks were trapped in Amsterdam by the German occupation of the Netherlands. Anne lost her German citizenship in 1941 and became stateless. She is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust, she gained fame posthumously with the 1947 publication of “The Diary of a Young Girl”.

Arnold Heertje (1934-2020)

Heertje was a Dutch economist and professor at the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Born in Breda in 1934 and grew up in a city called Arnhem. From 1951 to 1956 Heertje studied economics at the University of Amsterdam and received his MA cum laude. At the same university, he received his doctorate in 1960 for his thesis entitled “The price theory of the oligopoly”. In 1958 he started teaching at the all-Jewish Maimonides Lyceum in Amsterdam and continued to do so until 1968.

Estella Agsetribbe (1909-1943)

A Dutch gymnast who won the gold medal as a member of the Dutch gymnastics team, consisting of five Jewish members at that time, at the 1928 Summer Olympics in her native Amsterdam. The team was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Job Cohen (1947)

Job Cohen is a retired Dutch politician and jurist who served as Mayor of Amsterdam from 2001 to 2010 and Leader of the Labour Party (PvdA) from 2010 to 2012. Cohen studied Law at the University of Groningen where he obtained a Master of Law degree. He worked as a researcher at Leiden University before finishing his thesis and graduated as a Doctor of Law in Jurisprudence. In the Senate election of 1995, he was elected as a Member of the Senate on 13 June 1995 and served as a frontbencher and spokesperson for Justice, Education and Science.

Jozef Israëls (1824-1911)

He was a leading member of the group of landscape painters referred to as “the most respected Dutch artist of the second half of the nineteenth century”. He was born in Groningen and studied from 1835 to 1842 at the Minerva Academy in his hometown. He continued his studies subsequently in Amsterdam, studying at the Royal Academy for Fine Arts which later became the State Academy for Fine Arts in Amsterdam.

Tobias Asser (1838-1913)

In 1911, he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the field of private international law, and in particular for his achievements in establishing the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Born on 28 April 1838 in Amsterdam. He studied law at the University of Amsterdam and Leiden University and was a law professor at the UvA. Asser co-founded the “Revue de Droit International et de Législation Comparée”.

When I started to research the people who represent the Dutch-Jewish communities what I found the most interesting was that their achievements, passions, and dreams were to create something good and new for society. It is an honor to read about these people who also connect us to our everyday university lives, like mentioning Leiden University, UvA, University of Groningen, and more.

Hope you liked my blog and you’ll hear more from me in the future!

Would you like to learn more about the role of famous Jews in societies? Visit our discussion forum!

Gal Paran
Gal Paran was born in Israel but later moved to Hungary and is currently studying at Leiden University in The Hague. Because of her international background, Gal’s main hobby is travelling and getting to know the places she visits better. In her blogs, she takes you on a journey with her!

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