The construction of the Great Synagogue in Stockholm during the 1860s initiated Jewish communal debates on the position and public presence of Jews in the Swedish pre-emancipatory society. An investigation into the construction process not only reveals various Jewish opinions on the sacred building, but also the pivotal role of Swedish-Christian actors in shaping the synagogue’s location, architecture, and the way it was presented in the public narrative. The Jewish community’s conceptualization and the Swedish society’s reception of the new synagogue turned it into a space on the ‘frontier.’ Conceptually situated in-between the Jewish community and the Swedish-Christian society, it encouraged cross-border interactions and became a physical product of the Jewish and Swedish-Christian entangled relationship. Non-Jewish architect Fredrik Wilhelm Scholander, historical figures prominent in the Swedish national narrative, and local and national newspapers were incorporated by the Jewish lay leadership into the creative process, and they influenced and circulated the community’s self-understanding as both Swedish citizens and Jews of a modern religion. The construction process and final product strategically communicated Jewish belonging to the Swedish nation during the last decade of social and legal inequality, thus adding to the contemporary political debate on Jewish emancipation.
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