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.