Archive for Portugese Synagogue

Amsterdam, Winter 2012

Posted in Art and Culture, Life and What about It, Travel with tags , , , , , on December 22, 2012 by Louise Steinman


The Portugese Synagogue was empty on a winter’s day in Amsterdam, dust in the pews. I caught my tiny humunculus of a reflection in the sheen of the silver chandeliers. Outside, a statue of the philosopher Spinoza (banned from the same Portugese Synagogue for his radical ideas, history’s first “secular Jew”) cast his gaze on the nearby canal. On an adjacent street, I found these two musicians– the saxophonist with a ready smile and a tip of his cap, both of them playing with gloves. I dropped some coins into their instrument case and stood still in the chill air, soaking up their soulful sounds. The day before I’d visited Anne Frank Huis, it had been over thirty years since my last visit; how can it not fail to move one to the core climbing those steep stairs to the annex, the glimpse of sky from the attic window? When I was last in Amsterdam decades ago, I played a demon at the Mickery Theater in Ping Chong’s AM/AM. Returning to this beautiful city, Wandering these streets is a joy, surprises abound.

Ah to be alive in Amsterdam on a winter’s day in 2012, what a gift. I stood transfixed listening to their music. 


Amsterdam street musicians (notice they’re wearing their gloves!)

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