The key concepts for action against ignorance, misunderstandings and stereotypes are enlightenment, information and dialogue. Many people have little or no contact with Jewish people and they also don’t know about Jewish customs, practices and traditions. Things that are foreign to us and that we don’t properly understand can be daunting. That’s why the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG) launched the Likrat project.
«Approaching each other»
Likrat is Hebrew for «approaching each other». Jews and non-Jews should approach each other. Likrat imparts Judaism in a lively and memorable way because different people can get together on an equal footing. The Likratinos and Likratinas, as they are known, go to school classes or to organizations and answer all of the participants questions in a «Likrat encounter.» The principle of every Likrat encounter is that any questions can be asked – there is no right or wrong in a Likrat encounter.
Dismantling of prejudices and stereotypes
The project aims to dismantle prejudices and stereotypes against Jews and Judaism, to provide inter-cultural and inter-religious experiences and to promote tolerance and dialogue sustainably and effectively. Likrat has been active in German-speaking Switzerland since 2002 and in French-speaking Switzerland since 2015. During this time, around 100 encounters were held each year. This means that the project reached around 1,500 students per year. A spin-off was launched in 2015 called Likrat Public which focused on companies and organizations. In the meantime, Likrat was also exported to other European countries.
Likratinos and Likratinas
The SIG trains young Jews to become Likratinos every year. The Likratinos and Likratinas are intensively prepared for the encounters with school classes and organizations. They attend several seminars in which they get to know their religion better and learn how to respond readily to critical questions. Alongside knowledge transfer and rhetoric, the focus is on simulating encounters to prepare the Likratinos in the best possible way for future Likrat encounters.
Likrat for schools
In their role as peer educators, young Jewish people are invited to school classes to talk about Judaism. During a Likrat encounter, the students are allowed to ask the Jewish youths anything about Judaism – all questions are welcome. The encounters give a face to Judaism and the pupils can then engage much more readily with this culture and religion, which most of them didn’t know anything about.
Likrat Public helps non-Jewish organizations to better understand Jewish customers. It is aimed at tourist companies (airlines, hotels and mountain railways) and at the public sector (police, army, authorities, hospitals). As part of Likrat encounters, employees have the opportunity to clarify any uncertainties about behavior and communication or relating to requests and questions when interacting with Jewish customers and guests.
Since 2002, Likrat has successfully established itself as a flagship program within prevention work. For this reason, other countries also look to this experience and have taken up the program themselves, for example in Germany, Austria and Moldavia.