Likrat Public, the dialogue and awareness raising project of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities (SIG), will continue to run its summer project in Swiss holiday regions with Jewish guests in 2020. Information guides and, above all, Jewish mediators on site are intended to promote greater mutual understanding between the hosts and Jewish guests. The project remains true to its basic principles, but will be partially adapted this year owing to the Coronavirus crisis. The 2020 event will start on 27 July and will last a total of three weeks until mid-August.
Jewish guests from all over the world have been coming to Switzerland for decades, mainly to spend their holidays in the Swiss Alps. When different cultures meet each other, there are always questions, uncertainties and even misunderstandings. This is where Likrat Public comes in - it aims to encourage mutual understanding through dialogue and knowledge transfer. The project relies on mediators, or Likratinos and Likratinas, as they are known. Since the project was started five years ago, Likratinos and Likratinas have already visited a number of organisations and companies with Jewish customers. In the summer of 2019, Likrat Public went one step further. The project committed even more intensively to promoting communication and understanding between the local population and Jewish guests. Hence, various measures and tools were developed and tested.
The tourism associations share knowledge about Jewish life
There have been Jews and Jewish culture in Switzerland for centuries. Public knowledge of what makes up and is involved in this culture has often only been weakly developed. Adding to the complication is that Jewish guests come to Switzerland from a wide range of different countries with their own cultural influences. The tourism associations Swiss Tourism and hotelleriesuisse have been providing information guides for specific groups of guests for many years. In 2019, a guide for Jewish guests was released. The goal was to provide information about the Jewish culture, tradition and religion and to give employees in the tourism industry a better understanding. The guide covers Judaism in a wider sense and shows the diversity within this group of guests. The SIG contributed to the production of the content as an advisor and partner. The guide was provided in a packet with the other guides about international guests to hotels, apartment rental companies, and public facilities such as cable cars and tourist information offices.
The SIG shares knowledge and tips on holidays in Switzerland
All parties involved need information and understanding. The SIG has therefore issued its own guide aimed at Jewish guests. In it, the readers are helped to understand Swiss characteristics and behaviors. It also has practical tips to make their stay in Switzerland as easy as possible. The goal of these guides is also to increase knowledge and understanding. The SIG has worked closely with the Jewish community in Zurich to produce the guides and also liaised with the local Tourism associations. The guides for guests have been issued in English, French, Hebrew and Yiddish. They have been distributed amongst destinations who welcome many Jewish guests and are also available to download.
Likrat Public to provide mediators directly and on site
As a third measure, Likrat Public uses mediators in selected tourist regions that host a large number of Jewish guests. This is so that the project can comply with a request from the tourism industry and expand the offer constituted by Likrat encounters to both direct and low-threshold intervention by mediators and the facilitation of dialogue on site. The mediators are being deployed during the high season, which begins with the Jewish day of fasting and mourning - Tisha B'Av - in July or August. Their job is to approach people, educate them and also to act as contact persons. This offers the local population the opportunity to ask questions and learn new information - all with a low threshold and without their feeling shy or embarrassed. For guests, on the other hand, in the event of any difficulties, it may well be easier for them to find the right contact person or the information they need with help from mediators. The guides serve as basic information which can be supplemented with the opportunity to ask Likratinos and Likratinas questions in person or draw on their support. Likrat Public and the SIG have found committed partners for this initiative in both the tourism organisations and holiday resorts.
The 2020 Summer Project - flexibility during the Coronavirus crisis
In spite of the Coronavirus crisis and the resulting uncertainties, the Likrat Public summer project will continue in 2020 and runs from 27 July to 14 August. It is not yet clear how many Jewish guests will come and how they will be travelling. This time, public information events or Likrat Public encounters, such as those in 2019, will not take place for the time being. Accordingly, the responsibles of Likrat Public will be placing more emphasis on direct contacts. Assistance with implementing Coronavirus-related measures is another new feature. Hence, in particular, precautionary measures relating to religious services will be translated, disseminated and explained in several languages. The Coronavirus crisis demands flexibility and ongoing adjustments of all project participants. Even so, the feedback from guests and from the tourism industry during the past season has shown just how important the project is. That is why the SIG and all of the partner organisations involved are looking forward to this year’s event, which is taking place under special conditions.