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 1870s, 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.
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."
Despite the efforts to assist the Jews, there were unfortunately dubious activities in Sweden by individuals, companies, and even entire industries that profited from the Holocaust.
In 1997, the Swedish government organized a committee to investigate government and industries profiting during the Holocaust. Likewise, that same year said government also implemented a nation-wide Holocaust education programs, one of the first of its kind.
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. Other Jewish communities in the country are located in Göteborg, Uppsala, Boras, Lund, Helsingborg and Malmo.
Unfortunately, in recent years, anti-Semitism has emerged throughout the country, particularly in Malmo.
The entire community is represented by the Council of Sweden Jewish Communities. Likewise, Stockholm’s community is represented by Judiska Forsamlingen I Stockholm.
Stockholm’s Jewish community has a Jewish community center, Jewish museum, a library, and Judaica House, as well as a kindergarten and primary school.
Information regarding kosher items can be found here, as well as a complete kosher guide.
Reprinted with permission from Shalom Life