Sweden to appoint special 'investigator' to strengthen Jewish life and culture

According to the Swedish government, the investigator will examine the conditions for Jewish life today and present proposals to ensure its survival and development.

 Photographed through a Menorah, former US President Barack Obama participates in a celebration of Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial of Stockholm, September 4, 2013 (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
Photographed through a Menorah, former US President Barack Obama participates in a celebration of Raoul Wallenberg at the Great Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial of Stockholm, September 4, 2013
(photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

The Swedish government has announced that it will appoint a special investigator to map out obstacles, difficulties and opportunities for Jewish life in Sweden and make proposals for a national strategy to strengthen Jewish life there.

“No one should hesitate to live out their identity and tell others about it. We must ensure that Jews can and dare to live a Jewish life, both now and in the future,” Culture Minister Jeanette Gustafsdotter said in a press release.

"We must ensure that Jews can and dare to live a Jewish life, both now and in the future"

Culture Minister Jeanette Gustafsdotter

According to the release, the investigator will examine the conditions for Jewish life today and present proposals to ensure its survival and development. The focus will be on the transmission of Jewish culture and Yiddish to future generations.

Yiddish is one of the official minority languages of Sweden. Out of about 20,000 Jews living in Sweden, some 2,000–6,000 claim to have at least some knowledge of Yiddish, according to reports obtained by the Swedish government.

According to Gustafsdotter, the work will be carried out in close collaboration with the Jewish community in Sweden and will be reported on by December 15, 2023.

The Swedish flag is seen at Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm, Sweden, May 7, 2017. (credit: INTS KALNINS / REUTERS)The Swedish flag is seen at Gamla Stan, the Old City of Stockholm, Sweden, May 7, 2017. (credit: INTS KALNINS / REUTERS)

The Swedish investigator's responsibilities

Some of the questions the investigator will be asking include:

• Describe the conditions for living a Jewish life in Sweden based on Sweden’s international commitments to the protection of national minorities and minority languages.

• Identify the main obstacles and opportunities for the Jewish minority to live a Jewish life, propose measures aimed at strengthening the conditions for Jewish life in Sweden.

• Propose a comprehensive strategy to ensure the survival and development of Jewish life in Sweden, based on Sweden’s international commitments to the protection of national minorities and minority languages.

• Make proposals on how the strategy should be followed up and which player should be responsible.

All of these steps are part of Sweden’s commitments following the Malmö International Forum for Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism. Malmö, the third-largest city in Sweden, has been the site of numerous antisemitic incidents over the past few years.

The government has presented several initiatives to safeguard the rights of Sweden’s five national minorities, including in the areas of language, culture and influence. These include a historic investment in minority policy, with an increase of SEK 90 million (about $9m.) per year for three years, such as a comprehensive action program for the preservation and promotion of the national minority languages.

“We warmly welcome the Swedish government’s decision to appoint a special investigator that will make proposals for a national strategy to strengthen Jewish life,” the European Jewish Congress tweeted. “This step comes after Sweden hosted the Malmö Forum on combating antisemitism last October.”