Antwerp and Diamonds
Antwerp is internationally famous for its diamonds, and rightly so: about 85% of the world's rough diamonds, 50% of cut diamonds, and 40% of industrial diamonds are traded in Antwerp each year. With a total annual value of more than $12.5 billion, diamonds account for roughly 7% of total Belgian exports.
The diamond cutters of Antwerp are world renowned for their skill. More than 12,000 expert cutters and polishers are at work in the Diamond Quarter, at 380 workshops, serving 1,500 firms and 3,500 brokers and merchants.
Judaism and the Jewish Quarter
Many diamond dealers and traders belong to the Antwerp's Orthodox Jewish community, which has a long tradition of handling diamonds. More than 80% of the city's Jews are involved in the diamond trade and Yiddish is the main language of the diamond exchange.
Antwerp is home to about 15,000 Jews and one of the largest ultra-Orthodox communities in the Diaspora. The city's 30 synagogues are all Orthodox. Around 95% of Jewish children in Antwerp attend Jewish religious schools and there are many kosher delis, restaurants and grocery stores.
The Jewish community of Antwerp is located on Pelkinstraat, which begins at the Centraal railroad station, and the surrounding streets. Just around the corner from the train station is Diamondland, where visitors can view diamond processing.
Jewish sites in Antwerp's Jewish Quarter include:
- Great Synagogue (Main Synagogue), built in 1928
- Hollandse Synagogue on Bouwmeesterstraat, built in 1893
- Oosten Synagogue on Oostenstraat, constructed in 1913-1914
Quick Facts on the Jewish Quarter
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