The Jewish Museum of Switzerland – more than just a visit

by | May 13, 2024

13 March, 2024
Article written by Andrew Craven

Today, members and friends of the W+ B Verein enjoyed the singularly moving experience of a visit to unique museum in Basel. Enjoyed isn’t quite the right word, since so much of Jewish history has been shrouded in persecution, expulsions and misery.

Under the organisation of David Staehelin, whose association with the museum stretches back many years, we had a private tour, led by Roger Harman, a specialist in Hebrew inscriptions. Roger is pure enthusiasm, explaining the Jewish history that he has unearthed during his long years of searching – often from gravestones found (mostly) in cemeteries in the Alsace and Basel. He told us of the great migrations after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 – including the little-known fact that Jews had begun to settle north of the Rhine by the early 12th Century – long before many other tribes put roots of their own down in what is now Germany and Switzerland.

The museum’s collections range from a ring from antiquity, documents from the Middle Ages, books from the early modern era, household objects, manifestos for equal rights, testimonies from Zionist congresses and simple but cherished possessions belonging to emigrants.

With their enormous contributions to scholarship, literature and the arts, national defence and other professions, Swiss Jews are an established and integral part of the social fabric of our country, despite repressions and antisemitism that continue to this day,

The first museum of its kind to be opened in German-speaking Europe after World War 2, the Jewish Museum of Switzerland is well worth a visit.

Address: Kornhausgasse 8 4051 Basel
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 13.00 – 16.00 and Sunday – 11.00 – 17.00

Can’t make the time? Check out their website.