The new Jewish Museum has moved back to where it all started. Now the story of the past can continue into the future.
Minority heritage is often hidden under layers of supposedly more important history. It echoes the relationship between the minority and the majority.
The Jewish Museum tells the story of Jewish thought, Jewish practices, and Swedish history to everyone who is curious about Jewish history and Swedish-Jewish heritage.
In 1795, the Jewish congregation moved into an old auction room in Själagårdsgatan 19. The building was to be the focus of Jewish life in Sweden for almost a century. It had a synagogue and a religious school; it was home to the rabbi, the cantor, and the kosher butcher.
In the basement was a mikva, or ritual bath, and the kitchen baked Passover matzo for the whole community.
A special law in force until 1838 decreed how Jews were allowed to live and behave in Sweden. The law said the Jews were a nation of their own, so Själagårdsgatan was the heart of a kingdom within a kingdom.
Recent renovations for the new museum turned up a painter’s bill from 1811.
It seems the old synagogue had wall paintings which might have survived. The bill also shows that parts of the gallery were gilded and the interiors were marbled.
This ornamental painting is currently being restored. Själagårdsgatan may be one of Europe’s last remaining synagogues done in the German style.