August 11th, 2005

Central Board of Jewish Welfare in Germany

Support and assistance in all social matters

The Central Board of Jewish Welfare in Germany (Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle, ZWST) is a non-statutory welfare agency. Along with other, primarily denominational institutions, it participates in the work of the League of Free Welfare Agencies in the various federal states. It is also a member of the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der freien Wohlfahrtspflege, the nationwide community of non-statutory welfare agencies. It is an umbrella organization for the Jewish communities in Germany and as such it holds overall responsibility for helping them to carry out their social tasks and for running and co-ordinating youth work. As a non-political institution uniting the Jewish communities, it is their second body of public representation alongside the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

The association was founded in 1917 as the Central Welfare Agency for German Jews to co-ordinate the diverse social institutions set up by the Jewish community and to care for Jewish veterans of the war or the widows and orphans they left behind. Under the Nazis the task of the ZWST was to look after Jews leaving the country and to provide any social care or emergency support which might offer succour or assistance to Jews during that period. In 1939 it was closed down by the authorities and its staff were deported to the camps. After the war the ZWST was revived by the Central Council. All over the world Jewish organizations had declared in 1945 that there should “never again be Jewish communities in Germany”. But post-war history turned out differently. Some 22,000 Jews wished to continue living in Germany. In a spontaneous and unplanned manner they created the predecessors of today’s Jewish communities.

A bulletin published every two months – ZWST informiert – reports on events and new developments in the communities, projects in progress and diary dates. There is also a book of guidance in German and Russian for Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, full of advice designed to help them start their new lives. The Social Department offers various courses and events aimed at the vocational and social integration of immigrants, including leisure and further training opportunities in their local areas or hostels. The leisure options are above all intended to cater for the older generation.

The Youth Department at the ZWST provides a framework for youth work in the Jewish communities all over Germany, offering both advice and its own year-round programme of activities for every age group from children to young adults.

The Education Centre is a focal point of exchange for information material, activities and programmes relating to Jewish education in Germany. The literature and film archives are regularly updated, and teaching aids on specific themes – such as Israel, feast days and Judaism – are compiled and published for the use of youth centres, communities and schools. In 1993 the ZWST opened its Eden Park Hotel in Bad Kissingen, the only guest-house in Germany managed on kosher principles.

For more information contact:
Hebelstrasse 6
60318 Frankfurt am Main
Telephone: (+49/0) 69 - 9443710 Fax: (+49/0) 69 - 494817