Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Shalom, Denmark: A Jewish Culture Guide

Explore the Jewish history and culture of Denmark through synagogues, cemetaries, and numerous community events.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: July 15th, 2014 in Culture » Society » News

And we’re off, to anywhere and everywhere, as we say ‘Shalom’ every week to different global travel destination. World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered.

For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the best of what to do and where to go. Be it an emerging subculture, a historical landmark, or simply a triumph of art in any form, Jewish experiences are found around the world; and likely as well in your backyard.

It may be in the destination, the journey, or the company, but there is much to uncover and celebrate near and far, so hurry up and get going.

Shalom, Denmark

Birds-eye view of Coppenhagen

The first Jews to reside in Denmark settled in the region during the early 17th century. According to the World Jewish Congress in the 1620’s, Christian IV permitted Jewish settlement within his borders – making Denmark the first Scandinavian nation to do so. By the 1682, the first Jewish settlement was established in the newly founded town of Fredericia. Two years later, an Ashkenazi community was formed in the capital, Copenhagen.

By 1814, Jews in Denmark were given civic equality, and 1849, were finally granted full citizenship. During the 19th century, the Jewish community flourished economically and culturally. Many Jews rose to prominence within Danish society. The first country’s first synagogue, The Copenhagen Synagogue was built in 1833. In the mid 19th century, there were an estimated 4,000 Jews living in Denmark. By the early 20th century, the country saw an influx of Jewish immigration, what for Jews fleeing the pogroms in Eastern Europe, and the devastation of the Russian Revolution. By 1920, an estimated 3,000 Jewish refugees settled permanently in Denmark.

The Copenhagan Synagogue

In April 1940, Denmark was occupied by the Germany. In 1943, the Nazis ordered the round up and deportation of all Danish Jews. However, prior to the events, 90% of the Jewish population managed to flee to neutral Sweden. According to the European Jewish Congress, “5,191 Jews, plus 1,301 people of part Jewish parentage, and 686 Christians married to Jews were secretly transported to Sweden. Some 472 Jews were captured and deported to Terezinstadt, and 53 lost their lives there.”

Find out more about Jewish history and culture of modern-day Denmark on the next page!

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