Danish Jews to travel to Malmo, Sweden in solidarity visit against anti-Semitic attacks

(JTA) — Some 60 Danish Jews plan to travel to Malmo in solidarity with the Swedish city’s Jewish community and in protest of anti-Semitic attacks there.

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The visitors will leave from Copenhagen Sept. 23 aboard a bus and travel 16 miles to the center of Malmo. In Malmo, they will meet local Jewish leaders at Malmo’s synagogue and attend a Holocaust memorial ceremony, Rabbi Yitzi Lowenthal of Copenhagen told JTA. 

Martin Stern from Jerusalem, who initiated and partly funded the solidarity visit, said he thought it was necessary because “the Jews in Malmo are in trouble and things are not getting better.” Earlier this week, someone carved the word “Palestina” on the car of Rabbi Shneur Kesselman of Malmö, said Stern, who is involved in a number of charitable enterprises.

The two communities have historical ties, he added, referring to the 1943 exodus of Jews out of Nazi-occupied Denmark. Many ended up in Malmo. “Now that the Malmo community is in trouble, it is an opportunity to pay them back,” said Stern. His wife, Lorna Stern, immigrated to Israel from her native Copenhagen in 1971.  

“Although the two communities are very close, at the same time they are far – perhaps it’s a different country, different cultures and different languages,” Rabbi Lowenthal said. “But we hear about Malmo, what’s going on there. This is our attempt to bridge that gap.”

Anti-Semitism in Malmo first drew international attention in 2009, when riots broke out due to the presence of Israeli tennis players in the city, which was hosting the Davis Cup. Members of the Jewish community speak of frequent attacks and verbal abuse against Jews on the streets of Malmo, sometimes on a daily basis, according to Fredrik Sieradzki, director of communications for the Jewish community of Malmo.

In August, several hundred kipah-wearing Jews and non-Jews marched in Malmo and Stockholm as a sign of solidarity with Malmo’s Jews. Some 400 marchers gathered outside the synagogue in Malmo and walked to Mollevangs Square, a part of the city with many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East.
   

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