Identity and choices

Until recently being Jewish was a fate that had to be accepted for better or worse. For a majority of Danish Jews, their Jewish-ness is just one of many aspects of their identity and possibly less important to them than their occupation, political orientation, nationality and life-style.

It is quite likely that to many Jews, their Jewish identity is less important than their Danish identity, their profession as a Latin teacher, involvement in politics or being a diligent sports dancer. On the other hand, being born with a Jewish grandfather may be vastly important to one's identity and self-perception even though one has no ties with Judaism.


In 1805, Friskolen for Drengebørn af den mosaiske Tro "The School for Boys of the Mosaic Faith" opened as a result of M.L. Nathanson's reform efforts. The school's main purpose was to teach poor Jewish boys Danish and arithmetic and give them the qualifications they needed to survive and advance in Danish society. In 1810, M.L. Nathanson was among the founders of another school, Carolineskolen for Piger.It is still an important decision for Danish Jews whether they want to send their child to a Jewish school or not.

Who is Jewish?

Who, then, is Jewish? The orthodox tradition defines a Jew as a person who is born of a Jewish mother or who has converted to the Jewish faith. Thus, children of Jewish fathers and Gentile mothers are not technically Jewish, and are therefore not automatically members of the Jewish community. These children form a large group in a country where many Jews live with Gentile partners.

On the other hand, there exists a group who are Jewish according to law and tradition but for whom this identity is of little or no importance. Some can feel that the outside world is keeping them captive in a Jewish identity they themselves reject.

The numerous avenues of identity open to Danish Jews are not just due to integration and assimilation. In a modern society, Jews as well as Gentiles contribute to an ongoing cultural development within which composite and diverse identities thrive.

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...

Openings hours

September - May:
Tuesday - Friday: 13 - 16
Saturday - Sunday: 12 - 17
Monday closed

June - August
Tuesday - Sunday: 10-17
Monday closed