Education as strategy

Many of the restrictive rules and regulations that governed the lives of Danish Jews were somewhat mitigated under the Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century.

Danish Theologians such as Nicolai Edinger Balle proclaimed that it was no longer permissible to condemn honest believers whether they were "Turks, Jews or Brahmins". The Danish state listened to the ideas propounded by the Jewish Reform Movement and proposed its own reforms of the conditions governing the lives of Danish Jews in the late 1790s. The proposal was passed and the Decree of 1814 more or less granted the Danish Jews the same rights as their fellow Danish citizens.

Jewish schools

One of the prime movers for reform was M.L. Nathanson who also played an active role in establishing a Jewish school for boys in 1806 and for girls in 1810. The idea was to provide Jewish children with the necessary tools to survive and establish themselves in society beyond their own closed Jewish world. Education has always been extremely important in Jewish society and brought respect and status. However, learning had traditionally been equated with a devotion to and understanding of the Books of Moses, the Talmud and the many interpretations of the Holy Scripture. The new decree gave Jews access to secular education. Some years earlier, in 1788, Jews were granted the right to join the craft guilds. However, the Christian masters were rarely willing to hire Jewish apprentices, who could not work on Saturdays and would not share their meals. Consequently, the Jewish community established a premium company that rewarded each Christian master with a certain sum for each Jewish apprentice he hired.

Education can be brought with you

The very Jewish concept that education is of primary importance to the individual is still alive and well. Diligent students are rewarded with prizes and foundation grants. After all, an education can be brought with one if one has to move on. In the nineteenth century, Danish Jewish society could boast of numerous writers, scientists, theatre people, artists, musicians, manufacturers and traders who, motivated by their desire to achieve recognition and respect on par with their fellow citizens and to prove their patriotism the Danish Jewish community, became examples of success.

Space and spaciousness

- an exhibition about Jews in Denmark

The exhibition is a broad story of Jewish life in Denmark and focuses on co-exixstence and indentity through 400 years. Read more...

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