Home / Communities / Jewish Community of Knokke

The seaside resort town of Ostend lived up to its name of “Queen of Beaches” most worthily in the 19th and first half of the 20th century, drawing large numbers of vacationers.  These included Jews from across the Channel as well as a considerable number of members of Belgium’s Jewish community.  Starting in the 1950s, however, another Belgian coastal town, Knokke-Het Zoute (or “Le Zoute” in French), gradually replaced Ensor’s birthplace as “the place to be.”  Knokke-Het Zoute, which was more and more popular, became a real magnet for Belgium’s Jewish community.

To be able to meet their religious obligations, the town’s Jewish tourists improvised.  However charming the little prayer rooms that they set up might be, they eventually proved insufficient to meet the needs of an increasingly numerous and influential community.  The need for a recognized, organized community with a synagogue worthy of the name became obvious.

The official Jewish Community of Knokke took shape after the usual lengthy procedures.  The Royal Decree granting this recognition was signed December 10, 1998.  Since then, the community has continued to fare well and functions all year long, since its members do not need to wait for summer to go to the coast.  The invigorating air, magnificent beaches, wonderful walks, Zwin ornithological reserve, and pleasant mood of relaxation that characterize Knokke attract more and more people on holidays, weekends, and even every day of the year.  Choosing to reside in Knokke-Het Zoute is no longer the exclusive privilege of a few wealthy families in need of a seaside pick-me-up!