Jewish Cultural College Established in Sweden

Since 2000, Paideia has offered an intense One-Year Jewish Studies Program in Sweden with a maintained focus placed on textual literacy, but the country was  lacking in adult level programming  with a Jewish perspective for the greater Swedish populaion.. This past fall, Paideia established the first Jewish Cultural College in Scandinavia with the backing of Sweden’s Judiska Centralradet (Jewish Central Council) and official accreditation from Sweden’s Ministry of Education. Throughout the  process the Paideia Cultural College was mentored by Abdulkader Habib, who established the Islamic Kista Folkhögskola in Stockholm and brought to light how the existence of Christian and Islamic cultural colleges in Sweden pointed toward the void of a Jewish equivalent in the country. This is a great accomplishment for educators in Sweden and displays exactly what can happen when  scholars and leaders work together towards the cause of equitable representation and observation of different cultures and practices.

The goal of Paideia in the foundation of this institution is clear: promoting the goal of Jewish textual literacy by highlighting the importance of having an established knowledge of the texts and teachings. Paideia has stated that there are multiple intended audiences for the program. For example, the institution is meant to help individuals accumulate Jewish knowledge inside the Swedish Jewish community. Noa Hermele, the rector of Paideia Cultural College, explained that cultural college curriculums taught him a great deal about Jewish philosophy, Jewish law, and other aspects of the Jewish experience that he was not intimately aware of. All these aspects, to him and others, are an important  of the current goals of the institute.

Paideia has a vested interest in “being open to anyone with an interest and capability to add to Jewish culture” i and has made it a mission to bring knowledge of Jewish education to individuals not within Sweden’s established Jewish community. Barbara Spectre, Paideia’s founding director, has spoken on the positive impact that engagement with Jewish culture can have in the scope of today’s climate. Barbara Spectre, specifically, sees value in debate and questioning to evaluate text and promote discourse that allows us to insert our own voices into the cultural conversation. When asked to elaborate,rbara Spectre stated “There’s something about being able to add your own voice, and in a sense, differing from former interpretations, [showing that] there is something still incomplete. That notion of contribution by shaving away from the accepted – I think there’s something marvelous in that.” In stating this and expounding on the viewpoint of Paideia’s administration, Spectre has displayed that an open-minded cultural approach is of paramount importance when exploring the philosophies and belief systems of groups within a country’s demographic. With the opening of  The Paideia Jewish Cultural College, Sweden is showing the positive impact that cross-cultural approaches to learning can have in promoting equitability and a more enlightened cultural landscape.


Barbara Spectre Discusses the Importance of New Jewish Cultural College in Sweden

Paideia has, since 2000, provided a one-year Jewish studies program for academics to practice textual literacy. Until this year, however, there has not been a formal popular education program for Jewish Studies in Sweden. This has since changed with Paideia’s foundation of a new Jewish Cultural college. The program has been several years in the making, and Paideia’s administration is excited at the prospect for several reasons. In this article, Paideia’s founding director Barbara Spectre, gives her take on why the founding of a Jewish Cultural college is an exciting concept for many.

Barbara Spectre has spoken openly on the prospect of Paideia’s founding of a Jewish Cultural college and how it will have a positive impact on the greater cultural discussion. Spectre has stated “…the notion of being able to open up and interact, not only teach Judaism but have people react to Judaism and be part of the discourse, I think is a tremendously and increasingly important aspect of how a Jewish institute should function in the world today”. Barbara Spectre displays a commitment to the spirit and goals of folkbildning—that is, seeking knowledge with openness and freedom. Paideia and the program do not shy away from critique when it comes to evaluation of teachings and encourages them as part of intimately interacting with the texts.

Spectre also notes that it is important to utilize our own voice when learning Jewish subjects, and the concept of being able to freely evaluate texts is a huge benefit to the cultural conversation. She notes that there is “something about being able to add your own voice, and in a sense, differing from former interpretations, there is something still incomplete.” There is an inherent value to one’s personal experiences and grasping the concept of cultural modernity when interacting with religious texts and establishing their relevance in today’s world. Too often do we shy away from debate and questioning when learning subjects that are important to us, but  Paideia wishes to encourage open-minds and the concept of cross-cultural learning. After all, Abdulkader Habib (Director of Kista Cultural College, the sole Islamic Cultural College in Swden) provided the mentorship and interest in equitable representation of minority cultures in terms of adult level learning and  played an instrumental role in the establishment of Paideia’s cultural college’s establishment.