As we rode home from Glämsta, the 115-year old Jewish summer camp in the Stockholm archipelago, the back of the bus erupted in song. We moved through the Yiddish songs that we had learned together from some of the artists into some Glämsta tunes that our Swedish colleagues had learned as children. It was a joyful and powerful ending to a successful retreat, situating us within the larger historical context of Nordic Jewish life, yet perhaps with a unique cultural tone.
Sharing multiple perspectives and learning from diverse experiences was central to our time together in Sweden. For example, on our final evening at Glämsta, we enjoyed a relaxing evening at the campfire, followed by sauna time. We shared the American tradition of s’mores for the Europeans to enjoy, while they taught us about their own traditional campfire treat, bananas with chocolate. We felt our s’mores were far superior, but that’s up for discussion.
There were a number of powerful moments throughout the retreat that were brought out through shared artistic experiences led by the artists, including movement sessions, stop-action animation, poetry, and music.
We had invited several outside speakers, including local Master Artists who came to share their artistic practice. One noteworthy speaker was Åsa Simma, from the Sami people, a nomadic indigenous community in the Nordic region. She shared her own personal story, drawing from her background working with indigenous communities around the world, and her expertise as a theater professional. She provided a fascinating parallel narrative about living as a minority in Sweden.
Although we were all sad when our time together had come to an end, we know that this is just the beginning. Already we are seeing reunions being arranged, friendships blossom, and collaborations beginning to take place. We are eager to see what the future will bring for our Nordic Jewish artists and are delighted to welcome them to our Asylum family.