Jewish leaders from German-speaking communities to gather in Switzerland

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Jewish umbrella organizations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland are launching a project aimed at strengthening cooperation among the German speaking communities.

“Next Step” is slated to begin with a three-day seminar in March in Zurich for dozens of young Jewish leaders from the three countries, organizers from the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, or SIG, told JTA Thursday.

“This is first attempt of its kind which aims specifically to generate closer cooperation between the young leaders of these communities,” SIG’s secretary general, Jonathan Kreutner, said. “A lot more can be done to enhance the cooperation of these communities, which share many characteristics and challenges despite belonging to different countries.”

The seminar’s core group will comprise 10 leaders aged 25 to 35 from each German-speaking country, he said.

After the opening weekend in Zurich, the seminar will reconvene later this year in Berlin. Austria will host the seminar’s third and final session, according to a report about the initiative earlier this month by the Swiss Jewish weekly Tachles.

Germany has Europe’s largest community of German-speaking Jews, estimated at 200,000. Switzerland has 18,000 Jews and Austria has 7,500.