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  ARTICLE : DIASPORA
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The Jews of Norway
By Miriam Bodovitch - May 6, 2009


Synagogue in Oslo
Unlike many European countries there is little evidence of a Jewish presence in Norway until the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portuguese Jews in the 15th and 16th century. This is partly due to the remoteness of Norway but also because around the year 1000 the Norwegian king Olav forbade all non-Christians from living in Norway in order to establish Christianity as the national religion. There were doubtless some Jews who defied this ban but no official record of Jews in public documents until they were formally granted the right to settle in Norway until the 16th century.

These rights were rescinded in 1687 by Christian V who once again banned Jews from Norway and this prohibition remained in force until the middle of the 19th century. Finally in 1851 this ban was lifted and the first Jews began to arrive in Oslo shortly afterwards. Most of the early arrivals were from Germany and from the 1880ís onwards some Jews from Eastern Europe came to escape the insecure and dangerous conditions in Russia, Poland and the Baltic states.

There was not the mass migration to Norway as in other western European countries perhaps because they had not been any real tradition of Jewish settlement prior to the Russian Diaspora and according to the official census, the Jewish community in Norway expanded very modestly from 25 persons in 1866 to 34 in 1875 and then again to 642 Jewish residents by the end of the century. The first synagogue in Norway was established in 1892 and a second Jewish community was established in Trondheim around the same time.

In the following period between 1910 and 1940 Jews began the active process of joining and contributing to their own community and the society around them.
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