Stockholm gets first Swedish-born rabbi

Mattias Amster became the first rabbi born and raised in Sweden to hold a pulpit in the nation’s capital.

Swedish-born rabbis have worked in other cities but not in Stockholm, which is home to about 4,500 Jews, making it the country’s largest community.

Amster, himself a Stockholm native who left the country in his 20s, brings with him deep knowledge about Swedish culture.

“One thing I’ve noticed, it’s fun for people that it’s someone they can relate to,” Amster said.

Amster spent eight years learning at Orthodox yeshivas in Israel, where he received his ordination and met his American-born wife Esther. There the couple had two children, Gita and Shmuel, before moving to Oregon, where they spent two years working for Portland Kollel, an organization that offers Jewish educational programming to Jews from a range of backgrounds.

Now Amster, 36, has returned to his roots as the Orthodox rabbi of the Swedish capital. The community traditionally employs one Orthodox and one non-Orthodox rabbi.

“It feels really good to — for the first time in our community’s almost 250-year long history — be able to hire a Swedish-born rabbi. Rabbi Amster has grown up in our community and he knows the challenges that our community and its members face,” said Aron Verständig, President of the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, the country’s EJC affiliate.

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