Last year the Netherlands commemorated the 200th anniversary of the kingdom. There is another memorable anniversary which is threatening to pass by unnoticed. Two centuries ago, on February 26, the returning king Willem I installed a committee by royal decree which was to promote the irreversible emancipation of the Jewish population. It was a goal inspired by the Enlightenment and the ideals of the French Revolution.
This so-called Committee for matters pertaining to the Israelites, later the Main Committee, existed until 1870. The committee fell under the auspices of the then extant ministry of religious affairs. Its members were representatives of both the Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities. Rabbis were answerable to the committee which, in its turn, was closely supervised by the ministry.