Scandinavia Special Interest Group (SIG)


The Jewish Museum in Stockholm has a timeline (in Swedish)
and a brief "History of the Swedish Jews" (in English).


[based on: "Det mångkulturella Sverige" eds. Ingvar Svanberg & Harald Runblom, pp 192-196]

In the last part of the 17 century a number of Ashkenazi Jews and some Jewish families converted to Christianity settled in Sweden. A law signed in 1685 by King Karl XI banned Jews from Sweden and several later laws followed this line. There was a difference of opinion between on the one side the king and the nobility and the clergy and middle classes. The latter were hostile to the Jews as they viewed them as a threat to the church and to the trade respectively.

It was not till the era of Gustav III that laws permitting Jews to settle in Sweden at a larger scale. Marstrand became a "porto franco" in 1775 and the inhabitants were granted freedom of trade and religion; here a Jewish community was founded and a synagogue built. However, the Jewish community only lasted until 1794.

In 1774 Aron Isaac was granted permission to settle in Stockholm as an engraver and keep his Jewish religion. From 1775 a royal resolution opened op for the first "schutzjuden" in Sweden. A few years later there were enough Jews in Stockholm to found the first Jewish community.

The following years saw a continued opposition from the clergy and the middle class to immigration of Jews. In 1782 the so-called "Judereglementet" (Jew Rules) can be seen as a compromise between the opposition and the king and nobility: The Jews were considered aliens but given some rights; they were only permitted to live in a few towns (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Norrköping and Karlskrona) and were not allowed to own property outside these towns and for a living there were strict rules as to in what trades and crafts they could engage. Furthermore they could not hold office of any kind and were only permitted to marry within the Jewish community.

Statistics: Jews in Sweden 1787-1980

[After Joseph Zitomersky: "The Jewish Population in Sweden, 1780-1980: An Ethno-Demographic Study", in: "Judisk Liv i Norden", eds. G. Broberg, H. Runblom & M. Tydén, Uppsala, 1988]

Year Persons Year Persons Year Persons
1787 150 max. 1860 1,155 1930 6,653
1807 631 1870 1,836 1940 8,000
1815 785 1880 2,993 1950 13,000
1825 845 1890 3,402 1960 13,500
1830 890 1900 3,912 1970 14,500
1840 911 1910 6,112 1980 16,500
1850 960 1920 6,469    


by Carl Henrik Carlsson
President of The Jewish Genealogical Society of Sweden
M.A. in history Uppsala University, Sweden

can be found on the website of:

Jewish Genealogical Society of Sweden

-- click on the link "History".

Carl Henrik Carlsson is a contributing editor of Avotaynu and has given presentations on Swedish research at the Jewish Genealogical conferences in New York and London, where he presented interesting evidence that many Jewish immigrants to Sweden came from Suwalki.

Carl Henrik Carlsson is the author of:

  • "A Brief Guide to Jewish Genealogy" (in Swedish)
  • "Hur jag fann mina östjudiska rötter" (How I found my East European roots). In: Släktforskarnas årsbok 1997 (Yearbok of the Swedish Genealogical Society 1997). Published by Sveriges släktforskarförbund (1997), 9-34.
  • "Jewish Emigration from Eastern Europe to Sweden from the 1850's to World War I. Sources in Swedish Archives"/"Emigration juive d'Europe de l'Est en Sučde ā la fin du XIXe sičcle, sources dans les Archives Suédoises". In: Proceedings of the 5th International Seminar on Jewish Genealogy (1998), 207-214.
  • "Jewish Migration from Eastern Europe to Sweden from the 1850s to World War I". In: Avotaynu. The International Review of Jewish Genealogy, XIV:1 (1998).
  • "A Polish Jew, Swedish Clergymen and the Jewish Community. A case-study from 1848". In: Jews and Christians in Dialogue II: Identity-Tolerance-Understanding. Ed. by Michal Bron Jr. (2001), 107-116.

You can find more information about the Jews in Sweden on:

  • The Holocaust - the Icelandic historian Snorri G. Bergsson's website, where the 2. chapter "Jews and the North" gives a brief outline of the history of the Jews in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.

  • In the Database of Jews mentioned in Swedish books on Jewish history compiled by Erik Hirschfeld, Sweden, you will find a list of approximately 1,000 names, dates and other information (for instance birthplaces!) from books on Jewish history in Swedish.

Furthermore, on the website: The Internet Journal "ROOTS" (the world's only existing daily newspaper for genealogists - published by: The Swedish Genealogical Society) you can find useful information - in Swedish and some in English - about genealogical research in Sweden in general - and about researching your Jewish roots in Sweden on i.a.:

- for your information the Swedish word for "Jews" is "judar"!

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Compiled and updated 07.okt.2005