Home / Communities / Orthodox Jewish Community of Schaerbeek

The history of the Orthodox Jewish Community of Schaerbeek started during the period between the two world wars, when a number of Jewish families from Germany and Eastern Europe moved to the municipality (now a borough on the eastern edge of downtown Brussels).  These Orthodox Jews set up a prayer room in a house in Rue des Coteaux/Wijnheuvelenstraat.

The tragedy that struck the entire Jewish community of Europe from 1940 to 1945 obviously did not spare this community in Schaerbeek, even though a few families managed to hide in various places in Schaerbeek.

After the war, Jewish life in Schaerbeek resumed little by little.  The only way to avoid the community’s dispersal among scattered prayer rooms was to build a real synagogue.  So, a non-profit association was set up for the purpose of collecting the necessary funds and appeals for donations were launched.

The non-profit association acquired a first building, No. 126 in Rue Rogier, in the 1950s.  As luck would have it, the building next door, No. 128, was also put up for sale shortly thereafter and likewise purchased by the association.  The square footage of these two buildings combined provided the space necessary to build a synagogue worthy of the name.  The synagogue, designed by the architect A. Zielonka, was inaugurated on May 6, 1959, and bears the name Ahavath Chalom or “Love of Peace.”  Official recognition of the Orthodox Jewish Community of Schaerbeek, for its part, was granted by Royal Decree on November 8, 1963.

The beautiful synagogue in Rogier Street was a great success right from the start and attended regularly by some 200 worshippers.  The synagogue is still active today, although the congregation is noticeably smaller.