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Samuel Sarphati

SARPHATI, SAMUEL (1813–1866), Dutch physician and social reformer. Sarphati was one of the progressive leaders of Amsterdam in the mid-19th century. At the start of his professional career he was employed part time by the Portuguese Jewish community as a physician for the poor. The social dismay he experienced made him engage in numerous social and economic development projects. He initiated the first municipal garbage-collecting service, and was involved in the building of an industrial bakery to provide quality bread for the masses as well as the establishment of the city's first school of trade and commerce. Other endeavors saw public toilets situated throughout the city and the filling in of several polluted and foul-smelling inner-city canals. Sarphati stimulated urban expansion outside the ancient city walls. To facilitate financial investors he was instrumental in establishing the Netherlands Credit and Deposits Bank, a national mortgage bank and building society. Sarphati was also responsible for the founding of the "Paleis voor Volksvlijt," a vast glass-and-steel industrial exhibition hall, and the grand Amstel Hotel to accommodate commercial entrepreneurs.

Sarphati was a co-founder of the Netherlands Pharmaceutical Society. He was a member of the North Holland Provincial Council and was decorated Knight of the Order of the Netherlands Lion. A street, a park, and a quay in Amsterdam are named after him.


S. Bottenheim, Dr. Samuel Sarphati… (1945); H. van der Kooy and J. de Leeuwe, Sarphati, een biografie (2001)

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.