Switzerland is known today for its tolerance and not having fought a war in over 200 years. This was not always the case. In Bern in 1294 many Jews were murdered on the pretext of having killed a Christian boy. In the 1620s all Jews were expelled from the Swiss cantons or states. Surprisingly, some Jews came to live in Switzerland during WWII fleeing the Nazis.
Most Swiss Jews live in the large cities of the nation, Zurich, Basel and Geneva.
The primary language of the Swiss Jews is German. Some may speak Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino or another language at home depending upon their country of origin. The majority are highly educated and speak English, French and sometimes Italian. Jewish parents strongly encourage their children to pursue graduate educations. Jews often find their employment in medicine, law, higher education, science, and finance. Jewish scientists win the Nobel Prize many times above their percentage of the general population. One of the big issues today for Judaism is that many Jews marry outside the faith resulting in children of mixed heritage. Conservative rabbis will only marry a mixed couple if the non-Jewish person is willing to convert to Judaism. To be considered a Jew in most Jewish circles, one must present evidence that he or she was born of the Jewish mother. Judaism is a non-evangelistic religion. The Jews do not seek converts. A non-Jew or Gentile can become a Jew only through a time of prolonged study and commitment. At the age of 13, the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for a boy (or Bat Mitzvah for a girl) is an important rite of passage, which marks him or her as an adult member of the community. While these ceremonies were more spiritually focused in the past, they have become equally important as social events.
By keeping themselves removed from Christians in fear of oppression, the Jews have cut themselves off from hearing about the salvation from sin offered by Jesus.
Traditional Jews see Abraham as the father of their faith and Moses as the great lawgiver. The Law or Torah, the Prophets and the Writings make up the Jewish holy scriptures. Judaism is a moral, fiercely monotheistic religion. One obtains favor with God by obeying the laws found in the Scriptures. The writings of the Rabbis, the Talmud, are seen as an essential guide to knowing and following the commands of God. The two main holy days of the Jews are the Passover which celebrates the Jews leaving Egypt and the Day of Atonement in which Jews fast, pray and confess their sins. The Jewish Shabbat runs from Friday at sunset until sunset on Saturday. Religious Jews use this time to attend synagogue and to spend time with their families. Jews are known their philanthropic work and helping the less fortunate. The Jews of Switzerland are a diverse group. Swiss Jews can be classified into at least four major groups. The strictest branch of Judaism is the Orthodox. They believe the Law and Prophets, what Christians call the Old Testament, is the literal, inspired Word of God and still completely binding on their lives today. The liberal or progressive branch of Judaism is called Reformed. They do not believe in the miracles of the Torah and that Judaism must be fully integrated into modern scientific world. The Conservative Jews try to find a moderate, middle path between Orthodoxy and Reformed Judaism. One final part of the Jewish population are non-religious or secular Jews who do not attend synagogue and may go to work on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. These secular Jews may be atheists, agnostics or deists.
Swiss Jews need to see that their good works can never get them right with God. The only way that God forgives sins is through death and resurrection of His Son Jesus. The Jews who accept their Jesus as Messiah are frequently led into the kingdom of God by believers who model the love of Christ to them.
Ask the Lord to send Swiss believers to build friendships with Jews and demonstrate God's love to them. Pray that God raising up a Messianic disciple making movement among the Jews of Switzerland. Pray that more and more Swiss Jews would be willing to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. Pray that God would open the spiritual eyes of the Jews as they read and study the Old Testament.
Scripture Prayers for the Jewish, Swiss in Switzerland.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project
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|Location in Country
|Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Neuchâtel, and Vaud cantons. Source: Ethnologue 2016
|German, Swiss (19,000 speakers)
|gsw Ethnologue Listing
|Yes ScriptSource Listing
Primary Language: German, Swiss
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|People Group location: World Jewish Congress, Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
|Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.