THE HAGUE (JTA) — Some 60 Danish Jews are coming to Malmo in solidarity with the Swedish city’s Jewish community and in protest of anti-Semitic attacks there.
The Danes will make the 16-mile bus trip from Copenhagen on Sunday. In Malmo they will meet with local Jewish leaders at the synagogue and attend a Holocaust memorial ceremony, Rabbi Yitzi Lowenthal of Copenhagen told JTA.
Martin Stern of Jerusalem, who initiated and is partly funding the solidarity visit, said he thought it was necessary because "the Jews in Malmo are in trouble and things are not getting better." Stern said that earlier this week, someone carved the word "Palestina" on the car of a Malmo rabbi, Shneur Kesselman.
The Danish Jewish community has historical ties to Malmo, Stern noted, referring to the 1943 exodus of Jews out of Nazi-occupied Denmark. Many ended up in Malmo.
"Now that the Malmo community is in trouble, it is an opportunity to pay them back," said Stern, who is involved in a number of charitable endeavors. His wife, Lorna, immigrated to Israel from her native Copenhagen in 1971.
Members of the Jewish community speak of frequent attacks and verbal abuse against Jews on the streets of Malmo, sometimes on a daily basis, according to Fredrik Sieradzki, director of communications for the Jewish community of Malmo.
Anti-Semitism in Malmo drew international attention in 2009 when riots broke out due to the presence of the Israeli Davis Cup team playing in the city.
In August, several hundred kipah-wearing Jews and non-Jews marched in Malmo and Stockholm as a sign of solidarity with Malmo’s Jews. Some 400 marchers gathered outside the synagogue in Malmo and walked to Mollevangs Square, a part of the city with many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East.
"Although the two communities are very close, at the same time they are far — perhaps it’s a different country, different cultures and different languages," Lowenthal said. "But we hear about Malmo, what’s going on there. This is our attempt to bridge that gap."