In 1994, a runestone was found close to Ribe in southern Denmark. A fragment of it read; "Gæjup Apræhöm who came from Sparland* and on his death left all his wealth to King Harald" On the stone was carved a figure, presumably Harald Bluetooth, recieving various items from a man, presumably Gæjup. What is more intersting however, is that one of the items appear to be a s seven-armed candleholder. This finding would forever change how the Scandinavian world would understand it's relationship to Judaism. Gæjup Apræhöm, who's real name probably was Yaqub ibn Ibrahim, is a mysterious and interesting character. It is known that he worked for the Caliph in Cordoba sometime in the mid 10th century, serving as a diplomat to Europe as well as a succesful merchant and trader. However around 960, he just disappears, no letters are recorded to have been sent to the Caliph and he's not mentioned in any offical records. It's generally accepted he fell out of favour with the Caliph, but for what reason remains a mystery. New evidence collected since the Runestone was found suggests that he may have gone to Denmark, in fact he probably already had a trade network established in Denmark long before making it his primary residence. His wife is recorded to have remained in Cordoba, so that could explain why he let his wealth pass to the King who'd taken him in after his exile rather than his family. The large and ornately crafted runestone atleast shows that he wasn't a nobody in Denmark. Previously to the finding of the Ribe runestone, it was believed that the first Jews in Denmark came in the time of Cnut the Great. The source is undated, but due to England and Denmark being mentioned together, many assume it comes from the time where the countries were ruled by one King. "I offered him to stay with me in Cologne, but he replied that he would rather return to England or Denmark, where the land was poorer but the law was fairer" This document was written by a German Jewish merchant who recorded an encounter he had with another assumed Jewish merchant while abroad. Not only does this suggest that already then there were Jews living in Cnut's Empire, but that some already felt that Jews were being treated there than continental Europe. In the mid 11th century, finally a Scandinavian source definately mentions Jewish people living permanently there. In Roskilde from 1048; "Salme the Gyðing, gave King Sweyn much wealth and Sweyn promised him that he should be a good friend of him and the Gyðingar." While many historians have read this as the beginning of the good relationship Jews had with the Danish crown, others have with the rescent discovery of the Ribe runestone questioned if this perhaps was a much older practice of various Jewish merchants giving money to Danish kings to ensure their safety in the Kingdom. During the first crusades anti-semitic fervoe swept through much of central Europe and many fled north to Scandinavia. It is in this era the first mentions of Jewish communities in Norway are from, mainly they seem to have settled in Bergen. In this era the Scandinavian Jews appear to have thought of themselves as two different peoples, those who had lived there since the Viking age and those who had only first come in the late 11th century. The Jewish position seems to have remain tightly knit to the King for a long time. In the reign of Valdemar the Great, the monarchy acquired lots of new land which no Noble owned. Valdemar employed several Jewish men to oversee the development of these new lands, strengthening his own land without giving up influence to the nobility. The first Jews of Sweden were allowed to settle permanently in the mid 13th century, under Birger Jarl's hectic reforms he invited them alongside german traders, Jews became an important feature of early Swedish urbanisation. Also in the 13th century, with the first national laws being written in Denmark, Jews were specifically mentioned as one of the groups making up the danish Kingdom. A recognition that was unequal in the rest of Europe. When the Jews of England were expelled in the late 13th century, many flocked to Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In the late 13th and 14th century the importance of Jews grew ever more. German merchants and traders came more and more to dominate the Scandinavian economies and often ignored regulations put upon them by the kings of these countries. A way to counteract this was for the Scandinavian kings to actively promote Jewish merchants. This was one of the reasons why the Hansa was never able to dominate Scandinavia as they did the southern and eastern shores of Scandinavia. Culturally, this pitting of the Jews against the German merchants led to Scandinavian Jews seeing themselves as a people of their own, not Sephardic or Ashkenazi, but as a sub-group of their own. It is in this time that the word Gyðing begins to be used by the Nordic jews themselves. The Kalmar Union came in the end of the 14th century. Though the Gyðingar tried to stay out of the many civil conflicts it would entail, they did sometimes try to show their loyalty to the union by supporting the King, only when he was relatively accepted in all union countries though, which was a rare occassion. One such was the rule of Christopher of Bavaria, Gyðdingar merchants helped fund his lavish wedding to Dorothea of Brandenburg and in return, he saw that they were given additional protection, not only in danish law but also in Swedish, when the famous land laws of Christopher were written. In the late 15th century, the Jews of Spain were expelled, Scandinavia was one of the places they travelled to, bringing with them a wealth of knowledge that helped kickstarting a cultural and intelligent bloom in Scandinavia. Many say that it was the beginning of the Nordic renaisance. In addition, they brought with them knowledge of navigation which saw an increase in Scandinavian activity in the atlantic sea. The rise of protestantism saw the Scandinavian kingdoms convert, despite the violent anti-semitic rhetoric of Martin Luther, the position of the Gyðdingar were not hurt. A large reason for this was that the conversions were partially monetary funded and Gyðingar provided the state with large income. As Sweden grew to a great power on the shores of the baltics and Denmark acquired colonies in the atlantic, the Gyðingar were at the forefront of these expeditions. Especially in the danish carribean, Gyðingar made up over half the population. In the Baltic, swedish Gyðingar settled in Livonia and Ingria, though most would return with the loss of these provinces in the great northern war, they established further contacts with Russian and Polish Jews. The 18th century and the enlightenment saw many Gyðinga thinkers in contact with their continentals brethern in faith. Mostly Scandinavian Jews saw both the point of the liberal reformed jews and the orthodox ones and thus adopted a middle ground. Gyðinga Judaism came to be defined in a dual manner, often seen as being liberal in the open but orthodox in the home. Gyðingar dressed as any other Scandinavians, spoke Danish, Swedish or Norwegian in the streets and tried as best they could to engage themselves in swedish society. But in the homes they strictly observed their holidays, spoke their unique dialect of Yiddish and dedicated themselves to God. Some called it hypocrisy, but for the Gyðingar it was a way to unite their faith with their nationality without having to forsake one or the other. In the 19th century, Gyðingar were big supporters of pan-scandinavism, seeing it as an opportunity to unite with their brethern living abroad and strengthen their position in general in the countries. Nothing came of that movement, it was smashed in the second Schleswig war of 1864. Instead the Jews took to working with those Gyðingar who new resided in Germany, supporting them as to not forget their idenitity. The Scandinavian countries managed to stay neutral in the great war and after the plebsites in Schleswig-Holstein, most regions with large Gyðing populations returned to Denmark. This was later used fervently by the Nazi party as proof that Jews were tearing Germany apart. In the 1920's Gyðingar were finally made equal as democratization swept through Scandiavia, many Jews were involved in Social Democracy, believing that it was labour that united their nations, not race. Then came world war 2. In 1939 roughly 8% of Denmark's population was Jewish, 2% in Sweden and 4% in Norway. Togehter they made up roughly half a million people. The Nazis were not lenient to them and even as many fled to neutral Sweden, most were captured and rounded up in concentration camps. By the German surrender of 1945, roughly half remained, most of them living in Sweden. The Danish Jews and Norwegian Jews which had survived returned to their countries, but the emptiness of the Jewish quarters convinced many that there was nothing left for the Gyðingar, and so they left for Israel. Today? The Jewish population has steadily risen in Scandinavia since the second world war, but never returned to it's pre-war size. In Denmark there lives around 50,000 Jews, a massive decrease since the 30's where there were almost 300,000 and the overall population smaller than today. In Norway there are around 30,000, down from 150,000 in the 1930's. Sweden now has the largest Jewish population in Scandinavia, with 125,000, slightly smaller than it had been in the 1930's. There's a finnish jewish population of roughly 15,000 jews and just above 4000 in Iceland. These Jews today are very much integrated into mainstream Scandinavian society, partly due to Americanization making cultures less distinct and partly due to general secularism, but also because of conformist policies in from the 40's to the 80's encouraging national minorities to be more like the mainstream culture. The Gyðingar have left an undeniable impact on Scandinavian society, culure and landscape since Jacob Abraham first arrived, and although the horrors of war have left them much diminished than they otherwise would've been, their part of the global Jewish community sends a striking message to all who agreed with Hitler; he failed.