The Jewish community has a broad range of activities on offer for its children, adolescents and young adults. They include school courses, youth associations, sports clubs and training programmes for aspiring professionals.
Jewish communities in Switzerland have a broad range of activities to offer their children, adolescents and young adults. Some are school-related, others are intended for leisure or personal development. They all aim to convey and enhance knowledge about Judaism and Jewish identity with its culture and values. Just as important, however, are the opportunities they provide for youngsters to forge contacts and make friends within the Jewish community. Such activities strengthen the sense of community among young Jews. The SIG underscores its commitment to these goals by supporting youth programmes in the individual communities and offering programmes of its own designed by its Education and Prevention department.
Jewish communities offer own education opportunities
The Jewish communities in Basel, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich run nurseries, kindergartens and schools of their own. They stand out by supplementing the official Swiss curriculum with specifically Jewish subjects. Most communities offer Jewish religious studies as well as preparatory courses for Bar und Bat Mitzvah for children going to state schools.
Wide range of leisure activities
Jewish communities organise a great variety of leisure activities for children and youths of different age groups. The activities include crafts and handiwork, dancing, visits to museums, learning days and after-school meetings. A special place among the leisure activities for Jewish youngsters belongs to the youth associations («Jugendbünde»). These are organisations with various religious orientations where children and adolescents can meet up regularly and participate in educational and entertainment programmes as well as in holiday camps. Young Jewish adults and university students have also set up organisations of their own in their respective home towns. At national level, the association of Jewish students in Switzerland («Verein Jüdischer Studenten Schweiz») SUJS and other local student associations in various university cities offer opportunities for volunteering, joint leisure activities, networking and exchange. There are also Jewish sports clubs covering a variety of sports in Basel, Berne, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich, many of which have already been in existence for decades.
SIG support for up-and-coming young adults
With two programmes in particular, the SIG supports aspiring young adults in the Jewish communities. Through the dialogue and prevention project Likrat, young Jewish adults are trained in conveying knowledge about Judaism and Jewish ways of life in schools and, later on, in companies and other organisations. This is an important measure against prejudice and stereotypes. Candidates are given intensive training, in the course of which they learn more about their own Jewishness and gains skills in presentation and teaching. The SIG programme Next Step is an international training programme for up-and-coming Jewish business and community leaders. It provides them with an opportunity to develop their professional potential and acquire management and leadership skills, which they can subsequently put to use in their own Jewish community as well.