A broad religious spectrum

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the Jewish community in Copenhagen was divided by conflicting standpoints. Those in favour of reforming religious practice were at odds with more conservative elements in the community.

Such conflicts were not a Danish Jewish phenomenon. Towards the end of the eighteenth century inspired by Moses Mendelssohn, the ideals of the Reform Movement spread from Berlin to Jews in numerous countries. Ever since, all debate and discussion has been concentrated within these opposing standpoints. At the most recent election to the council of The Jewish Community in Denmark, 7 different fractions were registered. Nevertheless The Jewish Community in Denmark is governed by orthodox principles and it is only within the past few years that a small, alternative community practising a modern and re-interpreted Jewish religion has come into being.

There are numerous versions of standpoints in relation to the Jewish faith. However Jewish identity is based on more than the religion itself. Religion is not the most important common denominator for the Danish Jews, whose religious standpoints range from disbelief to traditionalism to orthodoxy. Only a minority live the traditional Jewish life often described in books on Judaism and Jewish practice. However the religious universe contains a number of concepts and significant meanings, which provide a cultural reference even for non-practitioners.

Cultural Jews

A large group of Danish Jews do not consider themselves religious, but see themselves as "Cultural Jews". Jewish holidays and festivals are celebrated with friends and family, they are interested in Jewish history, art and culture and have many Jewish acquaintances. 

Mixed Marriages

In 1798, King Christian VII granted the permission for the first mixed marriage between a Jew and a Christian. Their children though, had to be educated in the Christian faith.

The wig controversy

The internal debate on the reformation and modernisation of the community at the end of the eighteenth century became public. The elders within the community refused to call upon those members that wore the modern wig at the reading of the Torah in the Synagogue. These members reacted by denouncing the elders to the Danish authorities. The controversy was finally settled by compromise two years later.

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