Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One of Sweden’s Five Synagogues Re-Inaugurated

This historic synagogue is located in Norrköping, a town located close to Stockholm.The town of Norrköping, which currently has some 84,000 inhabitants, hosts only a few Jewish families.

The first Jew who arrived in Norrköping was Jacob Marcus who came to the city in 1782, as it was only in 1779 that Jews were allowed to live in Stockholm, Göteborg and Norrköping. Jews at that time were restricted to living in these three cities only, and to certain professions; they were not allowed to give evidence in court, and mixed marriages were prohibited as well.

Marcus was granted permission to reside in the city in order to conduct trade and establish factories. He built a small synagogue in 1790, which was replaced nearly seventy years later by the current synagogue; it was originally dedicated in 1858. According to historical sources:

-“In 1860, the congregation had 99 members. Today, only about 30 use the large structure, which was listed as an historic building in 1978. In the 1990s the synagogue was the target of several anti-Semitic attacks. That in 1996 was reportedly the worst of all; the building was entirely covered with anti-Semitic slogans.” 

Norrköping also has a historical cemetery which dates back to the time of its earliest Jewish settlers.Today, the small Jewish community in Norrköping is headed by Peter Freudenthal.

The renovation and re-inauguration have been made possible due to a generous donation by Sweden’s General Consul in San Fransisco who has contributed funds amounting to 5 million SEK (some $73,0000 USD) for the project. Unfortunately, however, Barbro Osher, the serving General Consul, was not present at the re-inauguration yesterday.

In light of the re-inauguration, invitations were issued to a number of religious and political dignitaries, including Israel’s ambassador to Sweden as well as Governor Elisabeth Nilsson, local Mayor Li Teske, Rabbi David Lazar and Bishop Martin Lind.

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