European Jewish Congress
The Jewish Community of Sweden
Council of Sweden Jewish Communities
Latest news from the community
Swedish neo-Nazis disrupt Shoah survivors' talks
A neo-Nazi organisation active in Sweden has been disrupting lectures from Holocaust survivors throughout the country, but the police are refusing to provide security at the locations of such talks, according to Israel’s top envoy to the Nordic country.
Read more

The Jewish Community of Sweden

Demography

Sweden’s main Jewish communities are in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo. There are also small communities in places such as Boras, Helsingborg, Lund, Norrkoping, Uppsala and Vasteras.

According to the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, there are about 20,000 Jews in Sweden, but only a third of them are affiliated to a community.

Most Swedish Jews are descendants of pre-war refugees and of Holocaust. Some of them are descendants of Jewish refugees who fled Hungary in 1956 as well as Poland in 1968. In the 1990’s, many Soviet Jews chose Sweden as their new home.

History

Royal ordinances issued in 1685 against the Jews are the first indication of their presence in Sweden. Those ordinances referred to the Jews as “revilers of Christ and his communion” and justified their removal from Sweden in order to preserve the purity of the Lutheran faith.

The fate of Sweden’s Jews only improved under the reign of King Gustav III (1771-92). A Jewish cemetery was consecrated with royal permission in 1776, and in 1779 Jews were allowed to settle in Stockholm under restrictive conditions. In 1782, Jews were granted the right to settle in Sweden without converting to Christianity, but it is only in 1838 that they were recognized as Swedish subjects and that their status as foreigners was repealed. In 1870, Jews (and Catholics) were granted the right to hold political office. However, membership in the Swedish state Church was a requirement for ministerial office until 1951.

The 1930 census recorded 7,044 Jews in Sweden. With the rise of Hitler in Germany, efforts by Sweden’s Jewish community to save German Jews were impeded by the restrictive immigration policy of the Swedish government. Moreover, the upper echelon of Swedish society was mostly pro-German. Up to the outbreak of World War II, about 3,000 refugees were able to leave Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia for Sweden (in addition to some 1,000 “trans-migrants” who travelled to other countries via Sweden).

Swedish public opinion became less hostile to Jewish immigration following the anti-Jewish persecutions in German-occupied Norway in 1942. Setting an example of humanitarian policy, the Swedish government offered asylum to some 8,000 Danish Jews. During the war, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved many Hungarian Jews by granting them fake Swedish passports. In 2012, Sweden will organize public events to honor the memory of Raoul Wallenberg.

In 1970, Sweden’s Jewish population was twice bigger than in 1930. In 1997, the Swedish Government established a committee to investigate the transfer of Nazi gold to Sweden during the war.

In 2000, the Swedish Parliament officially recognized the Jewish community as one of Sweden’s five minorities. The Parliament also recognized Yiddish as an official minority language in Sweden.

In 2000, a European Institute of Jewish Studies was founded in Sweden with financial support from the Swedish Government. The institute educates Jewish scholars, community activists and artists from various European countries.

Communal life

Sweden’s Jewish communities are federated by the Official Council of Jewish Communities.

The absorption of thousands of wartime refugees greatly influenced the Swedish community. As a result, Swedish Jewry is particularly active in international Jewish welfare activities and in supporting development projects in Israel. The community includes organizations such as WIZO, the General Organization of Jewish Women, Emunah, Makkabi , and B’nai Akiva.

In the past few years, there has been an increase of anti-Semitism in Sweden, especially in the city of Malmo.

Religious Life

There are three synagogues in Stockholm (two are Orthodox and one in Conservative), two in Gothenburg (one Orthodox and one Conservative), one in Malmo, and one in Norrköping. Swedish law prohibits shechitah (the halakhic slaughtering of animals) and so kosher meat needs to be imported.

Besides the prohibition of shechitah, there is a lobby in Sweden against circumcision.

Culture and Education

There is one Jewish elementary school in Stockholm and one in Gothenburg. The Judaica House has a communal library and hosts activities such as Hebrew-speaking and Yiddish-speaking groups, youth movements, Israeli dancing, and sporting events. The bimonthly Judisk Kronika is published by the community, and there is a weekly Jewish radio program.

Paideia - The European Institute for Jewish Studies is a non-denominational academic framework was established in 2000 with funding from the Swedish government. Dedicated to the revival of Jewish culture in Europe, Paideia educates leaders of Europe - academicians, artists and community activists - towards fluency in the Jewish textual sources that have served as the wellsprings of Jewish civilization.

Israel

Many Swedish diplomats were involved with the Palestine question after World War II: Emil Sandstrom, who chaired the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) that recommended in 1947 the partition of the British Mandate between a Jewish state and an Arab state; Count Folke Bernadotte, who was the first mediator on behalf of the United Nations on the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1948; Dag Hammarskjold, the Secretary General of the United Nations; and Gunnar Jarring, the Special Envoy of the United Nations after the Six Day War.

Israel and Sweden have full diplomatic relations since 1950 (at the ambassador level since 1957).

Since 1948, 1,465 Swedish Jews have made Aliyah to Israel.

Sites

The Great Synagogue of Stockholm was built in 1876. There is a small Jewish museum in Stockholm, as well as a performing Jewish Theatre.

Contact

Council of Swedish Jewish Communities
PRESIDENT :
Aron VERSTÄNDIG
Address: Wahrendorffsgatan 3 B
P.O.Box 7427
10391 Stockholm
Tel: 46 8 58 78 58 00
Fax: 46 8 58 78 58 58
Email: info@jfst.se

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Life in Israel
  • A multi-pronged approach to water economy innovation
    While Israel is already by far the global leader in wastewater recycling, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) is determined to see the country re-use nearly all of its sewage in the years to come as its population continues to expand from north to south.

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 A multi-pronged approach to water economy innovation
  • From tragedy to tech: Israelis and Rwandans work together to build start-up African start-up nation
    With a modest population of twelve million, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Uganda to the north, Rwanda today is renowned for its green highlands, active volcanoes and rare silverback gorillas.

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 From tragedy to tech: Israelis and Rwandans work together to build start-up African start-up nation
  • Israel and China to partner on environmental technologies
    Urging Israeli companies to take part in cleaning up China’s ecosystem, Environmental Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday to collaborate on environmental technologies.

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 Israel and China to partner on environmental technologies
  • Knesset extends paid maternity leave to 15 weeks
    The Knesset on Tuesday extended paid maternity leave from 14 to 15 weeks.

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 Knesset extends paid maternity leave to 15 weeks
  • World's largest conference of travel bloggers held in Israel
    Travel bloggers, writers and industry professionals from 50 countries convened in Jerusalem this week to attend the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), the world’s largest conference and networking event for online travel journalists.

    On Thursday, March 23, 2017 World's largest conference of travel bloggers held in Israel
  • Thousands of injured Syrians treated in Israel
    Thousands of Syrians have been killed and millions more are on the run. That's just part of the cost of the ongoing civil war. Yet in all the chaos and heartache, unexpected examples of compassion could be healing more than just physical wounds.

    On Friday, March 17, 2017 Thousands of injured Syrians treated in Israel
  • Cheesecake, amaretto or goat cheese and onion jam?
    Those were just some of the new hamantaschen options this year on offer at a bakery in Tel Aviv, one of dozens around the country, which was bustling in advance of the Purim holiday, which started on Saturday evening.

    On Friday, March 17, 2017 Cheesecake, amaretto or goat cheese and onion jam?
  • Israeli researchers target treatment of autism with cannabis
    Sitting on cushions in the corner of a brightly decorated room in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre, 11-year-old Eitan anxiously watched the sliding door leading to the hallway outside.

    On Friday, March 17, 2017 Israeli researchers target treatment of autism with cannabis
  • Jews and Arabs come together for backgammon championships in Jerusalem
    In the early evening on a backstreet in downtown Jerusalem, Arabs and Jews are milling around, preparing for battle. But this isn't a new round of Middle East violence; it's a showdown over shesh besh, the local name for backgammon.

    On Thursday, March 09, 2017 Jews and Arabs come together for backgammon championships in Jerusalem
  • Israel becomes gas exporter
    Israeli firm Delek Drilling - the part of Delek Group developing Israel’s offshore gas fields - has started exporting natural gas to Jordan in what are Israel’s first gas exports ever, AFP reported on Thursday, citing a company spokeswoman.

    On Thursday, March 09, 2017 Israel becomes gas exporter
EJC in Media
President's Page Security and Crisis Centre by EJC European Parliament Working Group On Antisemitism