ESNOGA / AMSTERDAM
The synagogue belongs to an orthodox community, men and women sit separately. The prayers are in Hebrew, occasionally in Portuguese.
In 1492 Spain expelled its Jewish population. Many who fled to Portugal were nevertheless forcibly baptized after 1496. More than 100 years later, their descendants - victims of the Inquisition who wished to live as Jews - began to arrive in Amsterdam. At that time the Dutch Republic was at war with Spain, so to avoid being identified with the Spanish enemy these refugees from the Iberian peninsula called themselves 'Portuguese' Jews.
During the 17th century large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews arrived from Central and Eastern Europe. They soon formed the largest Jewish community in Amsterdam and Holland.
There were originally three Sephardi communities: the first, Beth Jacob, already existed in 1610, and perhaps as early as 1602; Neve Shalom was founded between 1608 and 1612 by Jews of Spanish origin. The third community, Beth Israel, was established in 1618. These three communities began co-operating more closely in 1622. Eventually, in 1639, they merged to form Talmud Torah, the Portuguese Jewish Community of Amsterdam which still exists today.