Established in 1775, the Jewish community of Stockholm numbers 5200 members. Its community center is situated near Raoul Wallenberg Square. The square was named after the Swedish diplomat who, after saving a number of Hungarian Jews, was arrested and then most likely assassinated by the Soviets. A sculpture by Willy Gordon representing a Jew fleeing with a Sepher Torah stands in front of the building.
The Jewish population of the city of Stockholm increased dramatically around the turn of the 20th century, mainly as a result of the arrival of Jews from Eastern Europe. If there were only 1,630 Swedish Jews in 1900, twenty years later the number increased to 2,750. World War II accentuated this increase with the arrival of other refugees, following a few more complicated years concerning the obtaining immigration authorization. The arrival of refugees from Norway in 1942 and then from Denmark the following year saved many lives.
A Memorial dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust was erected in Stockholm in 1998. It was designed by sculptor Sivert Lindblom and architect Gabriel Herdevall. It was inaugurated by the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustav. It is made up of 8,500 stone tablets.
In the aftermath of World War II, there were 7,000 Jews in Stockholm. This figure declined at the turn of the 21st century, mainly because of the persistent wave of anti-Semitic acts, especially in Stockholm. The Swedish Jewish population of the city thus increased to 4,500 in 2020.
Swedish Jews express this link more through culture than religion, very little invested in it. Hence the few rabbis trained in Sweden. In 2020, for the first time in 250 years, a Swedish-born rabbi, Mattias Amster, was recruited.
The Jewish Museum was founded in 1987 by a patron of the arts named Aron Neuman. It consists of three rooms and houses, with, in one area, a collection of cultural objects (including an important collection of Judaica), and in another area, temporary exhibitions dedicated mostly to works of Scandinavian Jewish artists. The museum was closed until it moved to the Gamla stan (old city) neighborhood in the oldest synagogue of Stockholm. The Jewish Museum was reopened in 2019.
There are three synagogues in Stockholm. Built in an oriental style and completed in 1870, the Grand Synagogue in the city center follows the Masorti liturgy and can hold 1000 worshippers. The most interesting feature of the community center’s library of this synagogue is its excellent collection of the community’s publication Judisk Kronika and the volumes on the history of Sweden’s Jewish community. The Orthodox synagogue Adat Yeshurun contains furnishings that came from a synagogue in Hamburg vandalized during Kristallnacht. The other Orthodox synagogue, the Polish-rite Adat Yisrael, is situated in the Södermalm quarter in a seventeenth century building. In the cultural arena, the Swedish community has its own FR radio station, Radio Shalom.
There are several Jewish cemeteries in Stockholm. The first was built by grace of Aaron Isaac in 1776. It bears his name, Aronsberg. Used until 1888, it has nearly 300 funerary stelae. The Jewish cemetery of Kronoberg was built in 1787. It housed 200 graves until 1857.
These two cemeteries being very small, the Jewish community acquired more land. Thus, in Solna, the architect Fredrik Wilhelm Scholander built the chapel and the portals of the Jewish cemetery of the North. In 1857 this place was inaugurated, nicknamed the “mosaic cemetery in the north cemetery”. Scholander will also be the architect of the Great Synagogue in Stockholm. Among the people buried there, Nobel Prize for Literature Nelly Sachs.