Contra banal

I’m very glad that I didn’t let myself be discouraged by the title of Christiane Bröcker and Babette Schröder’s “111 places in Stockholm that you must not miss”. It’s full of quirky, amusing and interesting locations in Stockholm that I knew little or nothing about.

My first book-inspired visit today was to the Aronsberg Cemetery (Mosaiska begravningsplatsen Aronsberg) near Fridhemsplan, Stockholm’s oldest Jewish cemetery named after Aaron Isaak, who came to Sweden in 1774, supplied equipment to the Swedish army in Russia and was, according to Wikipedia later swindled by Adolf Fredrik Munck, for a time a favourite of Gustav III, subsequently disgraced and exiled and who ended up in a pauper’s grave in Italy. Aaron Isaak wrote his memories in West Yiddish, but there is a Swedish translation Aaron Isaac: Minnen: ett judiskt äventyr i svenskt 1700-tal. Stockholm 2008. A must read for a rainy day at KB.

The cemetery gate is locked. You get a good view from Alströmergatan but, of course, not at all as intensive an experience as being able to wander among the gravestones and let the everyday fade.

I love following such threads, not knowing where they will lead. Threads that make the well acquainted strange, that work against our tendency to reduce attention once an area is known and safe, good perhaps for survival but not for our sense of wonder. My eye is not bad if I use it but I am lazy and need assistance to discover. And here not far from Café Fix and Pressbyrån and all the rest of familiar Fridhemsplan, was this atmospheric place unseen for 40 years. I am attracted by Hebrew too, consigned to the shadows by our Christian culture but as much part of our history as Greek or Latin.

 

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