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Danish Jewry dwindling due in part to anti-Semitism, community leader says

(JTA) — Denmark’s Jewish community has lost 25 percent of its registered members over the past 15 years, partly due to anti-Semitism, its president said.

The Jewish Community in Denmark, or Mosaisk Troessamfund, currently has 1,899 members compared to 2,639 in 1997, Mosaisk President Finn Schwarz told the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in an interview published last week.

“For young people that are considering how to live their lives, it is of course tempting to choose to live in Israel or the United States, where to be Jewish is not considered something negative,” Schwartz is quoted as saying.

The article was published as the Danish government commemorated the 70th anniversary of the rescue operation of Danish Jews from the Holocaust, in which more than 7,500 Danish Jews were evacuated from occupied Denmark in fishing boats to neutral Sweden, where they survived the Holocaust.

Danish media gave wide coverage to the story of Moran Jacob, the son of a Muslim father and a Jewish Israeli mother who had to move out of Copenhagen’s Norrebro neighborhood because of anti-Semitic persecution.

“I hope my children can walk around in Norrebro without having to hide that they have Jewish parents and without being spat on and assaulted, but I’m beginning to doubt it,” Jacob told Jyllands-Posten in an interview published on Sept. 29.

The Jewish community of Denmark documented 40 anti-Semitic incidents in 2012, almost double the number from 2009.

But Brian Arly Jacobsen, assistant professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, told the daily that the drop in numbers may be connected to cultural trends rather than anti-Semitism, which Danish watchdog groups say is mainly but not exclusively prevalent among first- and second-generation immigrants from Muslim countries.

The biggest challenge facing the community is that “many members belong to a postwar generation and are simply dying out,” he said.

Denmark has a Jewish population of approximately 8,000, according to the European Jewish Congress.

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