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A Hungarian Jewish Student in Sweden

Voices from Europe: A year abroad offers a new glimpse of Jewish culture

Stephanie Butnick
March 23, 2015
Stockholm, Sweden(Shutterstock)

Stockholm, Sweden(Shutterstock)

This month at Jewcy, our partner site, we’re running a series called Voices From Europe, in which young Jews across Europe share stories stories and shed light on the reality of their day-to-day lives. Guest editing the site is Jane Braden-Golay, president of the European Union of Jewish Students.

Today’s post is from Agnes Kelemen, a Hungarian student who just completed a year of coursework at Paideia, the European Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. She explains why she was drawn to Sweden and why she wanted to leave Hungary to continue her studies.

She writes:

Unlike many Jews in my home country, Hungary, I always knew that I was Jewish, there was no shocking “we need to talk, sweetheart” type of coming out in my teenager years. My Jewish (atheist) mother and my non-Jewish (atheist) father tried to bring me up as a “non-denominational” person, but they never treated my mom’s Jewishness as a secret. In fact, we talked about it rather a lot with my mom’s family. My grandfather’s cousin, Aunt Evi, lived in Sweden, since she was brought there by the Red Cross after being liberated from Bergen Belsen in 1945. Due to her story I was brought up with a very appealing image of Sweden, in my mind it was a safe haven of refugees.

Read the full post here.

Stephanie Butnick is deputy editor of Tablet Magazine and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.