Numerous delegates and guests took part in the SIG’s Assembly of Delegates at the Kursaal in Berne on 29 May 2022. The guest of honour was Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, who spoke in favour of comprehensive government support in matters of Jewish institutions’ security costs.
The 117th Assembly of Delegates of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities SIG was held in Berne on 29 May 2022. 92 voting delegates representing the 16 member communities gathered in Berne’s spacious Kursaal, for the first time in three years without corona restrictions. The first part of the programme was dedicated to the statutory items on the agenda of the SIG’s Assembly and the Assembly of Delegates of the Association of Swiss Jewish Refugee Aid and Welfare Organisations (VSJF). The second part in the afternoon included a visit by Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter.
Iris Levy elected
SIG President Ralph Lewin opened the Assembly of Delegates with a speech in which he expressed his concern over the war in Ukraine and its consequences. He highlighted in particular the committed support for Ukrainian refugees offered by the VSJF and the member communities, saying this shows that Jews have not forgotten their own past as refugees and are thus able to encounter these people with special empathy. The Assembly subsequently turned to statutory matters, with a special focus on the SIG’s new strategy for 2022-2025. Two prime targets in this strategy are enhancing internal communication and strengthening the SIG’s role as service provider for its members.
Further items on the agenda included by-elections to the SIG’s Central Committee and Board of Directors. Michaël Goldschmidt, elected to the Board of Directors in 2020, had previously announced his early resignation. A member of the Communauté Israélite de Lausanne et du Canton de Vaud CILV, he is moving his main place of residence abroad. By acclamation, delegates elected Iris Levy as his successor. Ms Levy is also a member of CILV and works for a media and marketing agency. She will assume responsibility for the Culture department on the Board of Directors.
Herbert Winter honoured with entry in SIG’s Golden Book
The afternoon programme following on to the Assembly of Delegates was open to the public and attracted numerous visitors and guests. The first item was dedicated to Herbert Winter and his valuable services to the SIG and Switzerland’s Jewish community in general. Mr Winter, President of the SIG from 2008 to 2020, was honoured by an entry in the SIG’s Golden Book. In his laudatory speech, Swiss parliamentarian Daniel Jositsch noted that Mr Winter had never striven for fame or honour, but had performed his duties as SIG President in his typically selfless manner. Mr Jositsch also emphasised Herbert Winter’s circumspect, tenacious and yet calm way of handling issues, and his accomplishments especially in enhancing the security of Jewish institutions. Mr Winter was very moved by these words. In his speech, he touched on the deep divisions and the tensions stoked in our society, and reminded the audience of how easily heated words can spark action. Yet he also stated his deep conviction that such antagonism can only be confronted with an unambiguous stance for togetherness.
Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter as guest of honour
The second programme item saw Federal Councillor and Minister of Justice Karin Keller-welcomed by the SIG. In an interview with journalist Sebastian Ramspeck, she first focused on the situation of Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland. She emphasised the solidarity of those who have opened their homes to Ukrainians and explicitly thanked the Jewish community for its commitment. As to the bureaucratic procedure of taking in Ukrainian refugees, she admitted that there was room for improvement. Yet she reminded the audience that the speed and extent of the refugee flow was, in this case, unprecedented.
In the second part of the interview, she outlined how the issue of government support regarding the security costs of minority institutions had been handled over the past few years. Spontaneous applause erupted when Ms Keller-Sutter unambiguously stated her position in this matter, saying she found it untenable that religious minorities were expected to protect themselves. She explicitly reminded the cantons of their responsibility in this respect and did not shy away from criticising some, including the canton of Geneva, for their reticence.
24th VSJF Assembly of Delegates
117th SIG Assembly of Delegates
- Ralph Lewin, SIG President
- Dalia Schipper, President of Jewish Community Berne JGB
Entry into the SIG’s Golden Book
- Herbert Winter
- Laudatory speech by Swiss parliamentarian Daniel Jositsch
Guest of honour
- Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter
- Interviewed by Sebastian Ramspeck, SRF
From approx. 17:45