The VSJF is a Jewish charity and also assumes social welfare tasks on behalf of the SIG. It provides social services to people in need, care for Holocaust survivors and support for refugees.
The VSJF’s predecessor was founded in 1908. Since 1943, it has been operating under the name «Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Flüchtlingshilfen/Fürsorgen» (Association of Swiss Jewish Refugee Aid and Welfare Organisations). For many decades, the VSJF was a section within the SIG. Nowadays it is an independent association, but nevertheless assumes social tasks on behalf of the SIG. It is also the umbrella association of the Swiss Jewish communities’ welfare organisations.
Social services provided by the VSJF
The VSJF’s social services are provided throughout Switzerland for Jewish clients who find themselves in a precarious life situation and who are often not members of a Jewish community. Among the services offered are psychological and social advice in cases of hardship or in emergencies and intervention in difficult situations such as divorce or other family crises. It is also a competence center for mediation and conflict management in general. In line with Jewish tradition, home visits and visits to sick people are organised all over the country. Moreover, the VSJF supports, supplements and advises the welfare organisations of the Jewish communities in Switzerland that are affiliated to the SIG.
Care for Holocaust survivors in Switzerland
The VSJF also provides care for Holocaust survivors living in Switzerland, in particular nursing and healthcare services. Yet its focus goes beyond financial, material and practical assistance. The VSJF’s services explicitly include personal contact with Holocaust survivors all over Switzerland. It is also a point of contact for these senior citizens and their next of kin in administrative and organisational matters. Furthermore, it is the national center for restitution claims by Holocaust survivors and the official representative of the Claims Conference in Switzerland.
Commitment and support for refugees
Finally, the VSJF also looks back on a long history and in-depth experience in refugee relief. In the 1930s, with an increasing number of Jews fleeing from Nazi persecution, the VSJF’s predecessor organisation became the central refugee relief organisation for the Jewish communities in Switzerland. The VSJF was, moreover, a founding member of the «Schweizerische Flüchtlingshilfe» (Swiss Refugee Council) set up in those years. After the war, the VSJF’s commitment was expanded to include non-Jewish groups as well. Nowadays it supports refugees irrespective of their nationality, religion and worldview. Its focus is on ensuring fair asylum policies and practices and on the social integration of refugees.
Close cooperation with the SIG
Despite the VSJF’s status as an independent association and a clear separation of tasks, it has retained very close ties with the SIG. Member communities of the SIG are automatically VSJF members, too. Thus, the same community representatives are to be found at the assembly of delegates of both organisations. The VSJF’s board always includes an SIG board member, namely the one responsible for social affairs within the SIG. Since 2021, this position has been held by Liliane Isaak-Dreyfus.