The SIG is the umbrella organisation of Swiss Jews and represents their interests. It serves as point of contact for representatives from the worlds of politics, society and the media. The SIG also advises and supports its member communities.
The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities SIG was founded in 1904 by 13 Jewish communities to represent and promote the interests of Jews in Switzerland. The SIG is organized as an association (“Verein”) and is domiciled in Zurich, where its office is located. Sixteen member communities in German- and French-speaking Switzerland are affiliated to it, with the association directly representing around 13,000 of the approximately 18,000 Jews living in Switzerland. The SIG cooperates closely with the “Plattform der Liberalen Juden der Schweiz” (Platform of Liberal Jews in Switzerland), the umbrella organization of three liberal communities.
Purpose, vision and mission
The individual Jewish communities originally joined forces in 1904 in reaction to the ban on kosher butchering (shechita) adopted by the Swiss Constitution in 1893. Nowadays, the SIG is the largest political umbrella organization of Swiss Jews and represents their interests at national and international level in dealings with political bodies, authorities, institutions and the media. A close bond with Israel and with Jews throughout the world also forms part of the organisation’s identity, and the SIG represents Swiss interests in international Jewish organizations.
Articles of Association of the SIG – Article 1: Name and Purpose
The SIG’s purpose is to protect and promote the joint interests of Jews in Switzerland, and in particular to represent their interests with regard to the Swiss federal authorities, national Swiss institutions and international Jewish organisations, while maintaining close connections with Israel and Jews throughout the world.
The SIG conducts its activities in accordance with Jewish tradition.
Mission and vision of the SIG
In its strategy for 2022–2025, the SIG drew up strategic guidelines governing the nature and structure of the work and activities of the association. These guidelines were informed by a vision:
The SIG vision
To guarantee equal rights, diversity, safety and self-determination for Jews living in Switzerland and reinforce their position as an integral part of Swiss society.
The mission of the SIG includes campaigning against antisemitism and discrimination, increasing the safety of Jews in Switzerland, preserving the Jewish cultural heritage and Jewish culture as well as promoting, publicizing and enhancing Jewish life in Switzerland. In terms of its implementation, the association’s mission focuses on three main areas of activity: politics/lobbying, prevention/education/identity and cultural heritage / commemoration.
Areas of activity in society and politics
In accordance with its purpose, the SIG maintains an ongoing dialogue with Swiss political bodies and the Swiss federal authorities in order to improve conditions for Jews in relevant fields and issues. The association is well established at this level as a point of contact and a provider of expertise in its areas of activity. It is therefore regularly invited to participate on various specialist and advisory bodies. With regard to public relations, the umbrella organization is a prime point of contact for the media as well as for institutions from the worlds of education and civil society for example, and is a permanent partner in dialogue with other religious communities. In its outreach work, the SIG fosters an understanding of Judaism in society, providing information on aspects of history, the Shoah, culture and religion. Preserving and raising awareness of Jewish culture and the Jewish cultural heritage are key elements of this work. The SIG is also engaged in efforts to prevent and combat all forms of antisemitism and racism.
Against its background of Jewish traditions and values, it is also involved in work on broader societal issues – not only in areas of direct relevance to the Jewish minority, in other words. On this basis, and with its historical experience as a minority, the SIG is working with others to create a society that sees diversity as opportunity and enrichment, and accepts and respects minorities with their individual characteristics. The SIG stands for tolerance, freedom of religion, human rights and the freedom of every individual to develop to their full potential.
Services to member communities
The SIG also offers its member communities advice and support in fields such as culture, youth work and public relations. It supports intercantonal and national projects and fosters cooperation among individual communities. The SIG is also firmly committed to the issue of safety: it campaigns for greater public funding to cover costs and fulfils a coordinating role. In addition, the SIG supports Jewish religious issues such as the availability of kosher meat in Switzerland. Affiliated to the SIG is the Association of Swiss Jewish Refugee Aid and Welfare Organisations (Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Fürsorgen VSJF), which takes on tasks on behalf of the SIG’s social department for the benefit of people in need, Shoah survivors and refugees.
|1904 – 1914||Hermann Guggenheim|
|1915 – 1935||Jules Dreyfus|
|1936 – 1943||Saly Mayer|
|1943 – 1946||Saly Braunschweig|
|1946 – 1973||Georges Brunschvig|
|1973 – 1980||Jean Nordmann|
|1980 – 1988||Robert Braunschweig|
|1988 – 1992||Michael Kohn|
|1992 – 2000||Rolf Bloch|
|2000 – 2008||Alfred Donath|
|2008 – 2020||Herbert Winter|
|Since 2020||Ralph Lewin|