The Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany (ZWST)
is a Jewish Welfare organization, representing the Jewish Federal Associations, the Jewish Communities and the Union of Jewish Women in the area of Jewish care. As a national union of Jewish welfare, the ZWST is the head organization of Jewish care in Germany. It also is a member of The Federal Association of Non-statutory Welfare (BAGFW). The ZWST team consists of 120 regular workers, and additionally is supported by free-lancers and volunteers.
Fully in line with its motto: “Zedakah” – the Hebrew synonym for charity – the ZWST follows the social and religious understanding of charity in Judaism. “Zedakah”, the commitment to help the needy with the view of achieving social justice, is, according to Judaism a “Mitzwa” – a religious imperative in Hebrew, and as such a pivotal religious commitment. Thus, the activities of the ZWST as an agency providing Jewish care are based on a concept of charity which is anchored in Jewish religious legislation.
The time line of Jewish Care in Germany
- 1917: The “Central Board of German Jews” was founded in order to coordinate the activities of the sheer multitude of social institutions of a formerly flourishing Jewish community. Bertha Pappenheim, the founder and and since 1914 chairman of the Jewish Women also was the most prominent founding member of the ZWST.
- 1939: The compulsory liquidation of the ZWST was forced through by the Nazi regime.
- 1951: The ZWST was called back to life under a new name: “The Central Board of Jews in Germany”. The ZWST resumed its activities with minimal staff mainly to provide relief to Holocaust survivors and Jewish displaced persons.
- 1990: Following the fall of the Berlin Wall a massive wave of Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union radically changed the Jewish community in Germany. Motivated to leave their homes, also due to the upsurge Anti-Semitism, more than 105.000 Soviet Jews migrated to Germany, tripling the number of the till then registered Jewish community members. They now form the absolute majority of the Jewish community members in this country.
- Central tasks: Helping the Jewish Communities throughout Germany build a sustainable infrastructure and promote a diversity of activities for each age group. Vital in this context are professionalizing of social integration counselling, offering vocational training and continuing education workshops especially customized for Jewish community workers as well as volunteers.