Author Topic: Swedish Jewish History  (Read 1237 times)

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Swedish Jewish History
« on: September 18, 2007, 12:08:07 AM »
Until The Late 1700's, there were no Jews in Sweden, because it was under the influence of The Lutheran Church which was opposed to Jewish settlement. In 1774, Aaron Isaac from Mecklenburg, became the first Jew admitted into the country. The emancipation of Jews in Sweden was a slow process. At first, Jews had limited rights, because they were designated a "foreign colony". The restrictions were gradually lifted in The 1800's, and in 1870, The Jews were fully emancipated, although ministerial office was closed to them until 1951.

The emancipation of Swedish Jewry led to the growth of the community. In the beginning of The 1900's, many Eastern European Jews found refuge in Sweden. In the years preceding World War II, Swedish Jews were alert to the dangers facing Jews to The South, but Sweden's hostility towards the acceptance of refugees prevented many Jews from finding safety there. From 1933 to 1939, 3,000 Jews were accepted into Sweden, and another 1,000 were allowed to use Sweden as a point of transit. By 1942, when the intensity of Nazi brutality began to reveal itself, and Germany's military fortunes deteriorated, The Swedish Government had a dramatic change of heart and allowed many Jews and other refugees into the country.

900 Norwegian Jews came to Sweden in 1942, setting a precedent for the rescue of Danish Jewry in October 1943. At that time, some 8,000 Danish Jews, almost all of Danish Jewry, escaped to Sweden on scores of fishing boats and other small seacraft. The remarkable efforts of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat based in Budapest, have been given considerable attention in Sweden, and are a source of national pride. In 1997, The Swedish Government established a committee to investigate the issue of Nazi gold transferred to Sweden during the war.

Today's Swedish Jewish community is primarily composed of descendants of pre-war refugees and of Holocaust survivors who arrived after the war. It also includes refugees who fled Hungary in 1956 and others who left Poland in 1968. In recent years, Sweden has become home to Jews leaving The Former Soviet Union.

Sweden has an Official Council of Jewish Communities and many international Jewish groups such as WIZO and B'nai B'rith are represented. Stockholm has three synagogues and two rabbis. One of the synagogues is the imposing Great Synagogue which was built in 1870. Synagogues are also operating in Gothenburg and Malmo. Because of the law prohibiting shechita, kosher meat is imported from Denmark and readily available in Stockholm and Malmo. Stockholm boasts several kosher shops. The Jewish Museum in Stockholm is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia.