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  ARTICLE : DIASPORA
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The Jews of Sweden
By Murray Zalman - July 30, 2009


Pro-Israel Rally in Malmo, Sweden
There is little evidence of Jews in Sweden during ancient times and the first recorded presence of Jews in that country are in Lutheran Church records that document a number of Jews being baptized in the late 1600ís. Some Jews who managed to get into Stockholm around the same time asked permission from Swedish King Charles XI to settle there and practice their religion but were refused. He also ordered that any Jew found in the country who has not willing to convert should be deported within fourteen days.

There may have been a few Jews in Sweden over the next fifty years as Jewish traders and businessmen often traveled there on business with the East Indian Company and to participate in auctions and conduct financial transactions. But it wasnít until the era of Gustav III that Jews were permitted to settle in Sweden as practicing Jews. The first Jew granted permission to live in Sweden was an engraver, Aron Isak, who settled in Stockholm in 1774 and within a few years there were enough Jews in that city to hold Jewish prayers. In 1775 the island of Marstrand near Gothenburg was opened to all foreigners and within five years the first Jewish family moved into the city of Gothenburg.

In 1782 an official Ordinance was proclaimed which allowed Jews to live in Sweden and to practice their faith but also contained a long list of restrictions and prohibitions, some of which would last until the middle of the 20th century. These restrictions included a ban on Jewish schools, public employment and holding elected public office. Every Jew who arrived in Sweden had to present their passport, provide proof of their good character and state their purpose for entering the country.
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