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Oslo, Norway

Oslo is the capital of Norway. When the law of 1814 prohibiting the admission of Jews to Norway was revoked in 1851, a Jewish community began to develop in Oslo; it acquired land for a cemetery in 1869 and was officially established in 1892 with 29 dues-paying members.

In 1917, the community split up, and two synagogues were opened in 1920. In 1909, a Jewish Youth Society (Israelitisk Ungdoms Forening) was formed, which published a monthly journal, Israelitin (1909–12). A Zionist Association was formed in 1910 and from 1929 published a monthly, Ha-Tikvah. There were 852 Jews in Oslo in 1930, mainly engaged in commerce and industry.

During World War II, more than half of the Jews in Oslo managed to escape to Sweden. The rest perished in Nazi concentration camps. The refugees who returned united into a single community. They were joined by several hundred displaced persons whom the Norwegian government had brought to Oslo, most of whom later emigrated to Israel or the United States.

The Oslo Jewish community (Det Mosaiske Trosamfund, DMT) holds its services in the synagogue that was built in 1920 in Bergstien and was miraculously left untouched by the Germans during the war. A B’nai B’rith Lodge was established in 1952 and a new communal center was built in 1960. In 1968, there were 650 Jews in Oslo, a synagogue, and two cemeteries.

The Jewish community of Oslo experienced a renaissance in the 1980s when the young rabbi Michael Melchior, son of rabbi Bent Melchior of Denmark, became the community rabbi. A Jewish kindergarten was established. A children’s choir was formed and many new melodies introduced in the Sabbath morning services.

In 1988, a Jewish home for the aged was built next to the synagogue and community center, and later a new wing for those in need of extended care was added. In 1992 the community celebrated its 100th anniversary; this contributed to increased activities in the Jewish community.

Since the 1970s Norwegian society has tended toward multiculturalism. This has also affected the way religion is taught in schools. Now all children must learn about the major religions, Judaism being one of them. Schoolchildren regularly visit the synagogue to learn more about the Norwegian Jews.

As a result of the Norwegian government’s decision to make restitution in compensation for the Nazi government’s liquidation of Jewish property and assets during World War II, the Jewish community of Oslo was given the means to renovate the community center. The restored and renewed community center was officially opened in September 2004. As a result of the Jewish restitution, the Center for Holocaust and Minorities Studies in Norway has been established. The Center, including a Holocaust exhibition, was opened in 2006 at Villa Grande, Vidkun Quisling’s former villa at Bygdøy in Oslo. A building in Oslo used as a synagogue before World War II is presently converted into a Jewish museum. Many of the new members of the Jewish community are Jews from various countries who have come to live in Norway or Norwegians who have converted to Judaism. Throughout the 1990s there was a gradual increase in community members, reaching around 900. However, in 2004 the number was only about 800.

In 1993, Oslo was the site for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians that led to the Oslo Accords.


H.M.H. Koritzinsky, Jødernes Historie i Norge (1922), passim. Website:

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.