NORWAY, kingdom in N. Europe. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, when Norway and *Denmark were united, most general regulations concerning the Jews of Denmark also applied in Norway. However, according to the Norwegian Legal Code promulgated by King Christian V in 1687 the Jews were barred from admission to Norway without a letter of safe-conduct; without this, a Jew risked arrest, fines, and deportation. As a result of this measure the special regulations allowing free access to the so-called "Portuguese" Jews (issued by the Danish crown in 1657, renewed in 1670, 1684, and 1750) were not consistently adhered to by the Norwegian authorities. An incident which took place in 1734 became notorious: three Dutch "Portuguese" Jews were arrested on their arrival in the country and spent two months in prison. In the 17th and 18th centuries, few Jews stayed in Norway, usually only temporarily, though some Jews in other countries had business connections there, such as Manuel Teixeira from Hamburg who was co-owner of some Norwegian mines. In 1814 Norway became free of the union with Denmark and a Norwegian constitution was produced. Despite the liberal tenor of the Norwegian constitution of 1814, Article Two – stating that Lutheran Protestantism is the official state religion in which all Lutheran children must be brought up – confirmed the exclusion of Jews and Jesuits
from Norway; this was strictly enforced. A new union was immediately formed with Sweden. At first this did not interfere with Norwegian politics, but from 1884 the Swedes decided to take an active part in Norway's foreign affairs. This union lasted until 1905. In 1817 a shipwrecked Jew was thrown into jail and then deported. In the 1830s, however, a more liberal spirit gradually emerged. The government issued letters of safe conduct from time to time; one was given to Heinrich *Heine's uncle, Solomon *Heine, who was instrumental in the granting of a loan to the Norwegian state by the Copenhagen banking house of Hambro and Son. In 1844 the Ministry of Justice confirmed the free immigration rights of "Portuguese" Jews. The repeal of the ban on Jewish settlement was largely the result of the efforts of writer Henrik *Wergeland. In 1839 he submitted his first proposal to the Storting, the Norwegian parliament, accompanying his proposal with a lengthy memorandum and publishing his essay on the Jewish question, Indlaeg i Jødensagen (1841). This was followed by numerous articles in the press, several of them by Wergeland himself. In 1842 a committee on the constitution dealing with the problem made a notable proposal in which it was stated that the right to free immigration was an international one. The motion to give the Jews free access received a simple majority, i.e., more than 50% of the vote, in 1842, 1845, and 1848, but did not obtain
The First Communities
The first Jew settled in the country in 1852 and for many years he remained the only representative of his faith; in 1875 only 25 Jews had their permanent residence in Norway. After 1880 immigration increased considerably, and Eastern European Jews gradually became most numerous. In 1890 there were 214 Jews in Norway; ten years later there were 642, most of them in *Oslo, the capital, and in Trondheim. The oldest communities, called "The Mosaic Congregation" (Det Mosaiske Trossamfund), were founded in Oslo in 1892 and in Trondheim in 1905; both congregations are still in existence. (See Map: Jews in Norway). Land for a cemetery was bought in Oslo as early as 1869, and the first burial took place in 1885. For some years there were as many as four congregations in the capital, but only two continued to exist for any length of time. In the 1920s and 1930s, a Jewish orphanage and home for the aged was founded. The census of 1920 recorded 1,457 Jews, of whom 852 lived in the capital. This was the highest number of Jews recorded prior to World War II. In 1930 there were 1,359 Jews in Norway, with 749 resident in Oslo.
In the years before and during World War I, young people's associations, women's groups, Zionist associations and charitable societies were established in Oslo and Trondheim. In the 1930s there were several Jewish theater societies, a choir and other cultural societies, a Norwegian Jewish Youth Society (JUF) that expanded into a Scandinavian Jewish Youth Society (SJUF) as well as an academic society. Two Jewish periodicals were published, Israelitten from 1911 to 1927 and Hatikwoh from 1929 to 1938. The two synagogue buildings in Oslo and Trondheim, both still in use today, were consecrated in 1920 and 1925 respectively. The second synagogue in Oslo, dedicated in 1921, has not been in use since World War II. (This building was converted into a Jewish museum that opened to the public in 2006.) For many years most Norwegian Jews engaged in trade; gradually they also moved into industry and some entered the professions. Between 1930 and 1940 immigration was comparatively slight.
It is possible to trace the rise of antisemitism in the Norwegian press during World War I and preceding World War II. In the 1930s anti-Jewish race theories were advocated by the Norwegian police, politicians, and press.
In 1941–42 the Jewish population of Norway consisted of approximately 1,000 households, numbering a total of 2,173 individuals living mainly in Oslo and Trondheim, but also thinly spread out in other parts of the country. Among these individuals 530 were Jewish refugees from the European continent and were not Norwegian citizens. About 1,800 were registered in the various communities. The number of Jewish refugees was relatively low, Norway being even more restrictive than Denmark and Sweden in the admission of Jewish refugees.
The Jews of Norway were hard-hit during the German occupation in World War II (April 1940–May 1945). Already in October 1940 Jews were prohibited to engage in academic and other professions. In some regions the actual persecution of the Jews began in 1941, but only in the fall of 1942 did it become countrywide. In two raids, on October 25 for all men over 16 and on November 25 for women and children, 767 Jews were seized and shipped via Stettin to *Auschwitz. About 930 Jewish inhabitants succeeded in fleeing to Sweden, while about 60 others were interned in Norway proper. A very small number of Jews managed to remain in hiding, in hospitals, sanatoria or in the Jewish old-age home. Quite a large percentage of Norwegian Jewish men who had managed to escape joined the Norwegian army encampments in Sweden or England and fought with the allied forces throughout the war. Victims of the war, 60% of whom were men (two-thirds of whom were citizens of Norway), totaled 758. Twenty persons perished either through acts of war or were shot in Norway. Of those deported 740 were murdered in extermination camps and only 29 survived. The Germans inflicted heavy damage on the synagogue in Trondheim, and planned to obliterate the Jewish cemetery there. The physical persecution of the Jews by the Germans was facilitated by orders given by *Quisling's government for the forced registration of all Jews (June 1942) and the confiscation of all Jewish property (October 1942). The final arrest was carried out by Norwegian police officers carrying out orders issued by the Nazis. The bishops of Norway sent a protest letter on Nov. 11, 1942 to Quisling. It was also signed by the other Protestant churches of Norway. The letter, in denunciation of the illegal acts, states: "God does not differentiate among people… Since the Lutheran religion is the state religion, the state cannot enact any law or decree which is in conflict with the Christian faith or the Church's confession." The letter was read from the pulpit on Dec. 6 and 13, 1942 and was quoted in the 1943 New Year message. Many Norwegians, with the guidance of the Underground movement, did their utmost to help Jews escape to Sweden, often at the risk of their own lives.
[Leni Yahil /
Lynn Claire Feinberg (2nd ed.)]
Most of the survivors of the Holocaust returned to Norway from Sweden after the war. Owing to the liquidation of Jewish property during WWII, most returned to homes that were emptied of all contents or valuables or homes occupied by Norwegians. The same was true of formerly Jewish-owned businesses. Miraculously, one of the synagogues in Oslo, including its Torah scrolls and contents, was untouched. The building had been used to store Nazi literature and property from Jewish homes that the Nazis had confiscated.
The Norwegian government was eager to demonstrate the sympathy of the Norwegian people toward the suffering Jewish people. About 400 Jewish DPs came to Norway in 1947, but many left a while later for North America or Israel. With the abolition of the DP camps in Germany in the 1950s, Norway
The communities in Oslo and Trondheim were reconstituted: Orthodox services were conducted in the synagogues; a home for the aged that had been in use before the war continued to exist for a few years after the war in Oslo; social work, supported by the American Jewish *Joint Distribution Committee and the Conference on Jewish Material *Claims, was expanded; a *B'nai B'rith lodge was established in Oslo in 1952; a community center was opened in Oslo in 1960; the small community participated in all activities in support of Israel. Rabbi Zalman Aronzon was rabbi of Oslo from 1949 to 1958 and was head of the community's religious instruction. Rabbi Aronzon introduced a bat mitzvah ceremony for girls at the end of their religious instruction. At this time approximately 80 school-age children received regular religious instruction in Oslo and Trondheim; In addition to weekly religious instruction, many children also attended Bnei Akiva, a Zionist youth organization arranging gatherings of a more social nature and summer camps with children from the other Scandinavian countries as well as trips to Israel. During the 1950s and 1960s the Norwegian government, the Church, and all political parties were actively engaged in eradicating antisemitism. Pro-Israel sentiment was very strong and found expression in many actions.
[Chaim Yahil /
Lynn Claire Feinberg (2nd ed.)]
The total number of Jews in Norway in 1981 was estimated at 1,100 (0.027% of the total population). In 1992 the number of Jews in Norway was about 1,300–1,400, of which 200–300 were Israelis. More than 1,000 people (including children) were members of the Jewish congregations in the two Jewish communities in Norway: about 900 in Oslo and 135 in Trondheim. This number remained relatively stable throughout the 1990s. There has been a distinct aging process throughout the period with a high percentage of community members older than 65, which explains why there has been a relatively high rate of deaths in proportion to births since the WWII.
Over the years, a small but steady stream of Norwegians have converted to Judaism. There is general tendency among younger members to study and live in places abroad such as Israel, where there are more Jews, and not to return. The number of members of the Oslo Jewish community has traditionally stabilized around the 900 mark but in 2004 there were only about 800 members and in Trondheim only about 100 members. Quite a large percentage of Norwegian-born community members have spouses who are non-Jewish or who have converted. Due to many marriages among Scandinavian Jews, several community members were born in Sweden, Denmark, or Finland. There are also several members who come from other countries.
During the late 1970s and 1980s the Jewish community's activities expanded in Oslo. Starting in the 1970s there was a gradual increase in Norwegian school children and other groups visiting the synagogues and learning about Judaism and the fate of the Jews during World War II. Several seminars on Jewish subjects were arranged at the universities of Oslo and Trondheim with Jewish and non-Jewish lecturers. In 1976 Kai Feinberg (1921–1995) became the head of the community, succeeding Harry M. Koritzinsky (1900–1989), who had held this post since 1946. In September 1980 Michael *Melchior (1954– ), son of Rabbi Bent Melchior, chief rabbi of Denmark, was inaugurated as rabbi in Oslo by his father after completing his rabbinical studies in Israel. Among those present were representatives of the Lutheran and Catholic Churches, universities, and state and municipal authorities. The community had existed without a rabbi for most of the years following World War II.
In Trondheim religious school instruction recommenced after a break of some years owing to the lack of Jewish children aged 8–13. The community, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in May 1980, had no cantor, and services and religious education were conducted by the community leader.
Moshe Dayan, when foreign minister of Israel, visited Oslo in May 1978, as did his successor Yitzhak Shamir in November 1980. The Jewish community arranged a dinner in the community center for Prime Minister Menaḥem Begin when he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1978.
With Rabbi Michael Melchior the Oslo community experienced a renaissance. Melchior helped make Judaism more visible to the Norwegian public at large and was often cited in newspapers and appeared on national TV. One of his first accomplishments was to open the Jewish kindergarten in Oslo in 1981. The kindergarten received some financial support from the city and soon became an important entry point for Jewish children and their parents into active participation in community life. In 2005 the kindergarten celebrated its 25th anniversary. In collaboration with the synagogue cantor, an Israeli, a children's choir was formed and many new melodies were introduced at the Sabbath morning services encouraging greater participation. Services were followed by a kiddush, with refreshments in the community center, also a novelty at this time. This event has since become the weekly meeting place for community members and guests. As a result of Melchior's involvement in the community the frequency of people participating in the Sabbath morning service in Oslo increased. Other services apart from Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur were not as well attended. In Trondheim the membership was too small to arrange morning services on Saturday. Services were usually held on Friday afternoons, on Rosh ha-Shanah, Yom Kippur, and some of the other festivals. For many years the service was conducted by the community chairman and superintendent Jacob Kommisar (1922–1995). In recent years the Trondheim community has started holding Friday evening services every two weeks, conducted by one of the community members, often in conjunction
With Rabbi Melchior, religious school education was greatly improved; in Oslo in the 1990s the religious afternoon school was taught by the cantor and some community members. There were about 70 pupils in Oslo in the 1990s aged 7–16, and this figure has remained quite stable since. For a number of years, a young member of the Oslo community visited Trondheim every two or three weeks to teach. In recent years several of the teachers at the Trondheim weekly religious school have been recruited from Jewish youth born and raised in Oslo and currently studying at the University of Trondheim. Trondheim also offers weekly religious education for pre-school children.
Beginning in the 1980s, in addition to the ordinary religious school lessons, weekend gatherings (also for the children in the kindergarten) have been arranged once or twice a year in the community vacation home 12 miles (20 km) from Oslo. At regular intervals the community invites children and their parents to spend a weekend at a hotel some 50 miles (80 km) from Oslo and celebrate a full Sabbath. Community members from Trondheim have also participated in these events. The annual summer camps have also been attended by Jewish children from other places in Norway. Bnei Akiva continues to engage members from the ages of 7–18 with weekly gatherings, inter-Scandinavian activities, and trips to Israel.
Twenty apartments for the elderly, partly subsidized by the city of Oslo, were built alongside the synagogue and inaugurated in 1988. A new wing was later added to this building, providing a place for elderly Jews who are too poor to take care of themselves.
The Jodisk Menighetsblad, the Jewish community journal, edited by Oskar Mendelsohn, 1976–1991, was succeeded in 1992 by a new publication, Hatikwa, which is issued four times a year.
In June 1992 the Oslo Jewish community marked its centenary with various celebrations, seminars and public lectures, while the religious school arranged a walk to and over the Swedish border along one of the fall 1942 escape routes. There was also an exhibition showing the religious holidays and a survey of important events from the past 100 years, which attracted more than 5,000 schoolchildren, and for which a special publication was printed. Jewish children published a paper about Jews in Norway which was distributed to schools. The community published a 230-page jubilee book.
The jubilee, held on June 14, started with a ceremony in the Jewish cemetery at the memorial for Jewish victims of World War II. This was followed by a festive service in the synagogue in the presence of Norwegian authorities and representatives of the other Scandinavian Jewish communities that was broadcast on Norwegian television. Rabbi Michael Melchior spoke and the cantor, the synagogue choir, and Cantor Joseph Malovany of New York conducted the service. There was also a festive concert at which the Norwegian king and queen were present. Rabbi Melchior was honored in 1993 with the Bridgebuilder Prize by the joint council of the Norwegian Church academies. He was granted this award for his significant efforts toward creating a dialogue and building bridges between people of different groups and backgrounds with the aim of counteracting the influence of hatemongers.
In Norway kosher slaughter was made illegal in the 1930s. The community has therefore had to import kosher meat ever since. In 1986 the first shop to sell frozen kosher meat and various kosher food products was opened; until then kosher meat had been sold at appointed times in the community center.
Since 1991 kosher meat has been imported from the U.S. and other kosher foods from Denmark and Israel. In more recent years kosher goods have been imported from Israel and European countries. The import of kosher meat and especially chicken is regularly an issue of concern, due to Norway's strict regulations on the import of agricultural products. The community rabbi has given several Norwegian food products a kosher certificate. The community regularly provides an updated list of kosher products obtainable in Norway.
For a few years starting in 1988, the Oslo community's leadership was divided between the head of the board (administration) and the superintendent of religious affairs. In 2005 Anne Sender was elected the first woman to head the community. Rabbi Michael Melchior, who settled in Israel in 1986, remained the religious leader of the community, spending about four months a year in Oslo until 1999. Since then he has been the chief rabbi of Norway. From 1999 to 2003 the community hired Rabbi Jason Rappoport from England and in 2003 he was replaced by Rabbi Jitzhak Rapoport from Sweden. Over the years the community has had several Israeli cantors serving for an average of two or three years doing service abroad. Services are also conducted by a young Danish Jew who has settled in Oslo and occasionally by local young men from the community.
Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism
There was more evidence of antisemitism during the 1970s and after than in the first decades after World War II, often taking the form of increased anti-Zionism. In January 1979 the synagogue in Oslo was vandalized with swastikas and anti-Jewish slogans in Norwegian and German (Juden raus!). The police did not succeed in finding the perpetrators. In autumn 1977 the country's bishops urged a clear and fearless attitude against all forms of antisemitism and aggressive anti-Zionism.
In the 1980s there were numerous articles in the press relating to Israel. Anti-Zionism was on the increase, primarily among political leftists. Pro-Palestinian attitudes, however, were also reflected in youth organizations of the Labor Party and some of the center parties as well as in some trade unions. On the other hand, there were many pro-Israeli articles. In the 1990s there was a tendency to connect anti-Israel and anti-Zionist sentiments with antisemitic statements. The Norwegian press has been increasingly critical of the policy of the State of Israel and many journalists have shown growing sympathy for and bias towards the Palestinians. Many Norwegian
Renewed Interest in the Holocaust
With a new generation of historians in the 1970s, renewed interest in the Jews and their World War II fate started to emerge. At this time there was a focus on the emergence of Norwegian neo-Nazi youth gangs and ways of taking preventive measures. Many concentration camp survivors began to tell their stories for the first time. "This Concerns You," an account from Auschwitz by Herman Sachnowitz, a Norwegian Jew, was published in 1976 and sold more than 160,000 copies in Norwegian. This was the first of several such accounts written by Norwegian Jewish survivors. In 1978 the television series Holocaust led to a whole series of questions related to the fate of the Jews of Norway during the war. Another series about how people were helped to flee to Sweden, among them the nation's Jews, was also aired. One of the questions raised was why persecution of the Jews had received such scant attention in the teaching of history, another related to the complicity of the Church throughout the ages. The Holocaust series was succeeded by many information programs on radio and television about events and persecution during the war, including interviews of several of the Norwegian Jewish survivors. Interest was revived in the diary of Anne *Frank. In March 1978 three of the people most active in the resistance movement during the war in helping to rescue Jews were invited by the Jewish community in Oslo to spend a week in Israel and to plant a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous on Har ha-Zikkaron. Several other people who helped Jews during the war have over the years been honored as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.
In 1992 the Hvite Busser organization ("White Buses") was formed by Norwegian concentration camp survivors. Their aim has been to arrange field trips to Auschwitz for teenage schoolchildren in order to teach about antisemitism and the Holocaust. Accompanying the groups is a first-hand witness, a Norwegian who survived a concentration camp, and a few of the witnesses are also Jewish. At the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II in 1995, several television programs and films appeared showing interviews with Jewish and non-Jewish Norwegian concentration camp survivors and members of the resistance. There were also several books written by Norwegians depicting the fate of the Jews and putting the role of the Norwegians during WW II in a new light. With the passing of the legislated time period, recently released archive material from the war years was now made available and fresh pages could be written in the nation's history books.
As a result of the focus on Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis during World War II in the Western world, renewed attention was also directed to the fate of the Norwegian Jewish population during the war and their property. In 1996 the Norwegian government formed a committee whose purpose was to ascertain what happened to Jewish property during World War II so as to determine how and to what extent seized assets/property had been restored after the war, and their value. As a result the Norwegian government decided to pay 450,000,000 NOK in restitution. One part was paid as individual compensations to Jewish individuals who had lost one or more relatives in the Shoah and who had been resident in Norway prior to the war. The rest was to be given as collective compensation to the Jewish communities in Oslo and Trondheim. However, in agreement with the Norwegian state some of these funds were to be put aside as the foundation for what has become the Center for Holocaust and Minorities Studies in Norway, a research center and Holocaust museum housed at Villa Grande, the house Vidkun *Quisling used as his home and headquarters during World War II. The Jewish communities also decided to set apart a sum to establish the Fund for Support of Jewish Institutions or Projects outside Norway. The remainder of the restitution money was used to restore the community centers and synagogues in Trondheim and Oslo. Because of the ongoing work that led to the Norwegian restitution, the World Jewish Congress chose to hold its executive meeting in Oslo in November 1996.
As a result of extensive work done by Norwegian Jews and Christians in the former Soviet Union, the Hjelp Jødene Hjem (HJH, Help the Jews Home) organization was founded in 1990 to coordinate all Norwegian contributions to help former Soviet Jews immigrate to Israel. It is a joint venture of a number of Christian organizations in Norway and the Jewish Community of Oslo. HJH also provides information about antisemitism and its consequences. In recent years most of the money collected has been used to support humanitarian projects in Israel.
Since the 1970s Norwegian society has become more multicultural. New immigrants have arrived from many parts of the world, among them many Israelis, bringing their religion and culture with them. The Protestant Norwegian State Church had a tradition of being very homogeneous, the Jews having been one of the very first non-Christian religious minorities in the country. There was now a need to find ways to cope with a new multicultural reality. In 1990 Oslo hosted a conference called "The Anatomy of Hate: Resolving Conflict through Dialogue and Democracy," which was convened by the Foundation and the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Former political prisoners and statesmen, writers and scholars from 30 countries – among them Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, Francois Mitterrand, and Jimmy Carter – discussed ways of living with ethnic and national conflict and managing regional tensions through dialogue. This conference was followed by a series of religious dialogues. The first was held in 1991, called "Common Ethics in a Multicultural Norway." Several smaller and larger interfaith groups followed throughout the country.
From 1991 to 1993 representatives of the Norwegian government were engaged in an ongoing project called "Norway as a Multicultural Society Aiming at Acquiring Knowledge about the Different Minorities' Special Needs."
The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway was established on May 30, 1996. The main task of the council is to promote mutual respect and understanding between various religious and humanistic communities. The Council seeks to prevent differences in belief from being used as a basis for prejudice and xenophobia and has received government support for its work since 1998. Representatives from 12 different religious and life stance communities meet regularly to discuss and find resolutions to issues that involve problems arising in the interaction between religious and life stance traditions and Norwegian society at large. Several conferences and dialogue projects have been initiated by this council.
In 1997 the Norwegian government introduced a new subject into the schools: Christianity, Religion and Life Stance – a subject meant to teach different religions against a backdrop of Christian values and religious beliefs. Previously children belonging to religions other than Christianity could be exempt from religious education in school, but now all schoolchildren regardless of their faith were required to learn religion in this way. The various minority religious communities and the humanists lodged strong protests. This was one of the first issues to be dealt with by the Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway. The strong protest brought about minor alterations in the curriculum and a more lenient approach towards parents who wished to avoid sending their children to these classes. However, despite the negative response to this subject, the effect has also been that all Norwegian schoolchildren regularly learn about Judaism throughout their school years. This has also resulted in a great increase in the number of schoolchildren visiting the synagogues and students contacting the communities for information. There has also been a greater demand to make Jews more visible in society at large.
In 1998 Norway ratified the Council of Europe's convention on acknowledging national minorities. As a result Norwegian Jews were granted the status of a national minority together with several other ethnic minority groups such as Roma (gypsies) and similar groups that have lived in Norway for more than 100 years. Under the new legislation, the Norwegian government is obliged to help its national minorities express, sustain, and develop their individual identities, cultures, and languages. As a result, the two Jewish communities have received government funds for the establishment of Jewish museums. In 1997 a Jewish museum was established in Trondheim and officially opened on May 12, 1997. In 2003 the Oslo Municipality agreed to accept plans to build a Jewish museum in Oslo. This museum was planned to open in 2007 in a building that used to serve as a second synagogue before World War II.
The Restitution Fund from the Norwegian government enabled a major restoration of the synagogue and community buildings of Trondheim and Oslo. In Trondheim the newly restored community center, including a library and multimedia center, was opened in the fall of 2001.
In September 2004 the Oslo Jewish community officially reopened its newly rebuilt community center and redecorated synagogue in the presence of prominent guests from the government.
Many novels and short stories with Jewish motifs and other books on Jewish matters – including the Holocaust – were translated into Norwegian during the 1970s, among them works by Bellow, Heller, Kellerman, Malamud, Potok, Roth, and Wouk. In the late 1970s most of Isaac Bashevis Singer's books were translated as were Eli Wiesel's. In the 1980s and 1990s several books by Amoz Oz and David Grossmann were published in Norwegian as were books by Yoram Kaniuk and in 2004 a book by Etgar Keret.
The Norwegian-Jewish author Eva Scheer published several Jewish folklore collections of tales and stories, with books on 19th-century Jewish life in Lithuania following in the 1970s and 1980s.
Among the many books on Zionism and Israel, The Right to Survive (1976), edited by Pater Hallvard Rieber-Mohn and Professor Leo Eitinger – "a book about Israel, Norway and antisemitism" – merits special mention. It includes articles by eleven Norwegians (two of them Jews). Lectures given at the university seminar in Oslo in 1976 in a series called "The Jews and Judaism," with the subtitle "From the Old Testament to the Middle-East Conflict," were published in 1977.
During the 1980s books by Norwegian Jews as well as books on Norwegian Jewry appeared, only some of which are mentioned here. Professor Leo Eitinger edited Human among Humans: A Book of Antisemitism and Hatred Against Strangers (1985), the lectures from the Nansen Committee hearing on antisemitism. An autobiography was published by Jo *Benkow; Mona Levin, a well-known author and cultural critic, wrote the biography of her father, the Norwegian Jewish pianist Robert Levin: Med livet i hendene ("My Life in My Hands," 1983). Robert Levin (1912–1996), a pianist and professor of piano and interpretation, was one of Norway's most renowned musicians. The author of the two-volume History of the Jews in Norway during 300 Years (vol. 1, 1969; vol. 2, 1986; second edition, 1987), Oskar Mendelsohn, was awarded a knighthood, 1st Class, of the Royal Saint Olav Order in 1989 for his work on the history of the Norwegian Jews and in 1993 he received the gold medal of the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Arts, the oldest Norwegian society of science (founded 1760), for his "comprehensive scientific work in the investigation of the history of the Jewish minority in Norway." A concise popular edition of Mendelsohn's work was published in 1992. Mendelsohn died in 1993.
The Holocaust was the subject of many Norwegian books and of several books translated into Norwegian during the 1980s. A Norwegian, Jahn Otto Johansen, wrote Det hendte også her ("It Also Happened Here"). In the 1980s came several
Kristian Ottosen, a Norwegian historian, wrote the account of the deportation of Norwegian Jews during World War II: I slik en natt (1994); Karoline Frogner, a Norwegian film producer, did the film and book Mørketid: kvinners møte med nazismen ("Time of Darkness: Women's Encounters with Nazism," 1995). It records interviews with several women who survived the Ravensbrueck concentration camp, among them four Jews.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s several books and chapters of books on Judaism were written in Norwegian for all school levels and at university level. As part of a series on religious texts from all religions, central Jewish religious texts were translated and published in Norwegian for the first time. Bente Kahan, a Norwegian Jewish actress and singer, has become known in Norway and Europe for her interpretations of Yiddish songs.
In 2001, the Wergelands Barn (The Children of Wergeland) project was made to commemorate the 150 years since Jews were allowed into Norway in 1851. Brit Ormaasen and Oskar Kvasnes interviewed a number of Norwegian Jews who were alive before the war and collected photographs to depict Jewish life in Norway from the first immigration up until 1945. This work was made into an exhibition that has been shown all over Norway and in 2004–5 in the United States. In 2004 two Norwegian film producers produced a film called Mannen som elsket Haugesund ("The Man Who Loved Haugesund"), a story about Moritz Rabinowitz, a Norwegian Jew who lived in Haugesund and who was arrested and killed by the Nazis in 1941.
Relations with Israel
Norway voted for the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, and Trygve Lie, as secretary-general of the United Nations, used all his diplomatic skill to remove obstacles to the adoption of the resolution. Diplomatic relations between Norway and Israel were soon established, first through nonresident ministers, and since 1961 on the level of resident ambassadors. At the United Nations, Norway frequently came out in support of Israel. The friendly relations found expression in great celebrations of Israel's tenth anniversary and in official visits by prime ministers, foreign ministers and other public figures.
The murder in 1973 of an Arab from Morocco living in Lillehammer temporarily created anti-Israel feelings in the Norwegian press and public. Strained relations developed between Norway and Israel when some of the alleged perpetrators were arrested at the home of an Israeli attaché.
Israel's right to exist within secure borders remained the basic foreign policy of Norway and the Norwegian delegation withdrew from the Geneva Conference on racism in 1978. Israeli policy on the West Bank has been criticized, but all demands for recognition of the PLO were rejected at this time because of the PLO Charter. Representatives of different parties in many cases spoke in favor of Israel, not least those of the Christian People's Party, and Israel has many friends in Christian quarters. However, there is also a smaller Christian pro-Palestinian group.
The group "With Israel for Peace," consisting mostly of non-Jewish youth, including university students, was founded in 1976 for the purpose of disseminating information about Israel and to fight anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda from the Norwegian left-wing.
Cooperation between universities in Norway and Israel was strengthened through technical-scientific symposiums held in Trondheim and in Israel. The organization "Norwegian Friends of the Hebrew University" (reestablished in 1977) raised money for a Norwegian-Israeli research fund. Israeli artists held exhibitions and concerts in Norway, among them the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Trondheim and Petaḥ Tikvah became twin towns.
Norway became the center of world attention during the 1990s due to the negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords, a part of the Middle East peace process directly connected with Norway. Due to the close relationship that had developed over the years between the Norwegian and Israeli Labor parties, Norway already had a long-established connection with Israeli officials. During the 1990s Norway also established increasing contacts with the PLO through research projects in the area. Using Norwegian mediators, secret negotiations were conducted between representatives of the PLO and Israel at several locations in Norway. On August 20, 1993, in Oslo, an agreement in principle was signed regarding the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian state. In 1994 Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres received the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway for this breakthrough. On September 28, 1995, the Oslo II agreement was signed, which was supposed to be the next step in the peace process. Over the years public opinion regarding Israel has changed from being very supportive to being more critical and more in favor of recognizing the Palestinian struggle. Increased hostility towards Israel and its policy continues to characterize the Norwegian press, left-wing intellectuals, and several politicians.
[Oskar Mendelsohn /
Lynn Claire Feinberg (2nd ed.)]
H.M. Koritzinsky, Jødernes historie i Norge (1927); O. Mendelsohn, Jødernes historie i Norge (1969). HOLOCAUST
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.