Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Shalom, Sweden: A Jewish Culture Guide

Today, there are an estimated 18,000 to 20,000 Jews residing in Sweden. The largest population lives in the capital, Stockholm with an estimated 4,300 members.

By: Sarah Bauder

Published: January 21st, 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, Sweden

By royal decree, all Jews that wished to reside in Sweden where required to convert to Christianity. Many converts continued practicing Judaism in secret, yet because of these restrictions, a Jewish community wasn’t established until the late 18th century. In 1782, a statute was issued allowing Jews to reside in Sweden under specific restrictions. Jews were only permitted to live in Stockholm, Norrköping, and Göteborg (a.k.a. Gothenburg).

In the following years, the Jewish populous succeeded in attaining more freedoms, and the community was permitted such things as engaging in religious services and building synagogues. However, it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that Jewish emancipation started to become a reality. By the 1870’s most restrictions that had hindered the Jewish population were lifted. In 1910, Jews in Sweden were given equality and civil liberties under the eyes of the law. Because of these freedoms, an influx of Jewish immigration resulted, mainly from Poland and Russia. It’s estimated that by 1920, there numbered 6500 Jews in Sweden. Betwixt 1933 to 1939, restrictions of Jewish immigration to the country were imposed.

Malmo Synagogue

Yet, once the Nazi atrocities gained wider attention, Sweden opened its borders. During World War II, Sweden remained neutral in the conflict. It has been well documented that the country assisted in the rescue of thousands of Jews from the hands of Nazi persecution. In 1942, 900 Norwegian Jews were granted asylum in Sweden. A year later, the entire Danish Jewish community, comprised of some 8,000 individuals found freedom on Swedish soil after being transported from their homeland in fishing boats. Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, famously saved thousands of Hungarian Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungry, by issuing them “protective passports”.

Find out more about the Jewish history of Sweden on the next page!

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