World

John Berman's 'Roots'

Updated 10:04 AM ET, Tue October 14, 2014
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Inside the 339-year-old Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, Netherlands, CNN's John Berman interviews Hetty Berg, chief curator and manager of museum affairs for the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. This historic synagogue was the center of the Jewish Quarter in Amsterdam during the 1700s and 1800s when Berman's ancestors lived there. It is still in use today. Ethel Bass/CNN
Arriving in Amsterdam in late August, Berman surveys the historic landscape -- or make that "canalscape" -- where his ancestors once lived. Ethel Bass/CNN
Despite a Nazi invasion, the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam was unharmed during World War II. Ethel Bass/CNN
Inside the synagogue are these Torah scrolls from the 17th century. Ethel Bass/CNN
While investigating his ancestry, Berman checked to see whether there was any similarity between him and a reproduction of the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza was the maiden name of Berman's grandmother. Ethel Bass/CNN
Spinoza lived in this quaint home in the Dutch countryside. He wrote philosophy books there and was a lens grinder for a while. It is now a museum. Ethel Bass/CNN
Berman samples a "stroopwafel," a Dutch treat literally translated as "syrup waffle." It is made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle. Ethel Bass/CNN
You have to go on a canal ride if visiting Amsterdam, and Berman got the scenic route while searching for his roots. Ethel Bass/CNN
Berman reveals his mission to find his "inner Spinoza" while sitting next the statue honoring the Dutch philosopher in Amsterdam. Ethel Bass/CNN
Berman reveals the results of his search to his dad, Gerry Berman, while visiting the site of their Dutch ancestors now buried in Boston. Ethel Bass/CNN