The SIG supports its member communities and their members in a wide variety of areas. As an umbrella organization it provides a number of services and offers.
As the umbrella organization for 16 Jewish member communities in Switzerland, the SIG is primarily responsible for representing their interests in dealings on a national level with political groups, the authorities, institutions and the media. It is actively involved in many areas of social interest, where it gives a voice to the perspectives and needs of the Jewish community. Internally, the SIG provides advice and support to its member communities and their members, and acts as a service provider and competence centre in a variety of areas.
Politics, media and society
The SIG supports its member communities on political questions and in dealings with the authorities, with media work and social topics. These are the main fields of expertise of the umbrella organization:
- Advice and support to communities with regard to political issues and dealing with executive bodies and the authorities – at the national level in particular, but also locally
- Advice and support with regard to media enquiries and media work in general, monitoring and analysing the media discourse and resulting information for the member communities
- Advice and support regarding contacts and collaborations with Jewish communities and institutions abroad
- Advice and support regarding contacts and collaborations with other faith communities and as part of the interfaith dialogue
Antisemitism and safety
The areas of antisemitism and safety are key aspects of the day-to-day work of the SIG. The association is committed to combating, preventing and promoting an understanding of antisemitism, particularly at a national level. In the area of safety, the SIG ensures contact and collaboration with the authorities is maintained constantly and is pressing for improved framework conditions. At community and local levels, the SIG provides support for specific problems and challenges in these areas:
- Advice and support to communities with regard to political issues and negotiating with executives and the authorities – at the national level in particular, but also locally
- Advice and support in the case of antisemitic incidents
- Advice, support, education and national coordination in the area of safety – especially in communities lacking their own safety organization
- Advice and support in crisis situations
Internal cooperation and exchange
- Promotion of exchange among the member communities and support for collaborations
The higher-level religious concerns of the Jewish community are represented in a consistent manner to the responsible authorities by the SIG. For communities, the SIG provides overarching coordinating services.
- Advice and support with regard to the supply of kosher meat
- Provision of data for community-specific kosher lists and the Kosher app via the Community of Interest for Kosher Foodstuffs (IGFKL)
- Advice and support on issues connected with dispensations for religious reasons – especially with regard to educational establishments and military service
Young people and education
The SIG’s work in this area comprises programmes created by its own Education and Prevention department, with key objectives being the promotion of Jewish identity and sense of community.
- Development and implementation of educational programmes such as Likrat and Next Step to engage the younger generation
- Dissemination of children’s literature, e.g. the PJ Library scheme
Culture and cultural heritage
The work of the SIG also includes promoting knowledge about Jewish culture both within the Jewish community and outside it. This specifically involves increasing the visibility of Jewish history and preserving the cultural heritage associated with it.
- Working locally to preserve Jewish cultural heritage
- Publicizing information about cultural activities in the communities and Jewish cultural events in Switzerland
- Support and advice for communities reappraising their history
- Support for communities with the transfer of their community archives to state archives or the Jewish Contemporary History archive
Affiliated to the SIG is the Association of Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Fürsorgen VSJF (Swiss Jewish Refugee Aid and Welfare Organisations), which works on behalf of the SIG’s social department for the benefit of people in need, Shoah survivors and refugees. These include advice and support given to the social departments of Jewish communities.
For community members
Jewish member communities are members of the SIG. Their members also benefit directly from the services and expertise of the umbrella organization.
- Information via the website and social media on topics including current affairs, politics, Jewish life, religious affairs, science and much more besides
- Advice and support in the case of antisemitic incidents and issues of safety
- Helping army civil defence personnel to assert their religious rights
- Helping Jewish school pupils and students to assert their religious rights in educational institutions
- Helping individuals to transfer personal photographic material to the picture archive in the Jewish Contemporary History archive