Copenhagen is both a cozy Scandinavian capital and busy international metropolis. It’s resplendent with urban parks and stunning architecture, and boasts a colorful history. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Copenhagen was once home to thousands of Jews. Though never large in numbers, Danish Jews exerted a significant and lasting influence on the nation’s culture and history.
The first Jewish community was founded in the town of Fredericia in 1682, and in 1684 an Ashkenazi community was founded in Copenhagen. By 1780, there were approximately 1,600 Jews in Denmark, all of whom were admitted by special permission granted on the basis of personal wealth. They were subject to social and economic discrimination, but they were not required to live in ghettos and had a significant degree of self-governance. The early 19th century saw a flourishing of Danish-Jewish cultural life. The Great Synagogue of Copenhagen is a landmark of this time, designed by the architect G. F. Hetsch.
The community's population peaked prior to the Holocaust. Despite German occupation during the war, the Danish Resistance Movement, assisted by citizens from all walks of life, organized a mass evacuation of roughly 8,000 Jews from Denmark by sea to nearby neutral Sweden; this ensured the safety of almost all the Danish Jews.
Today there are an estimated 8,000, predominantly Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, in Denmark, most of whom live in Copenhagen and the immediate surroundings. Copenhagen has 2 synagogues, multiple Jewish institutions, and 2 Jewish periodicals.