Forum on Social responsibility in the Jewish community

Forum on Social responsibility in the Jewish community

The forum on social responsibility in the Jewish community took place on June 30, 2016 in the Mozaik Hub. The forum was attended by thirteen people in total; in addition to community leaders, experts, and activists, the representatives of Mazsihisz (The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities), EMIH (Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation), Haver Foundation, Marom Budapest, Bálint Jewish Community Center, and OR-ZSE (Budapest University of Jewish Studies) were also present. The program consisted of panel discussions, lectures and keynote addresses.

The forum’s primary goal is to provide a communication platform for the representatives of those institutions, organizations, and initiatives in the Jewish community that are active in social care. The long term goals of these forums are to support collective thinking, to help cooperation, and to increase the impact of the work in the social field.

In addition to the goals of the forums mentioned above, we also examined the question what, if any, the responsibility and the role of the Jewish communities are in the solution of the Hungarian social issues. The participants unanimously answered ‘yes’ to the question whether the Jewish community has a role in these matters. In their introduction, they talked about how their organizations, institutions contribute to answering social challenges. Some of the areas these organizations and institutions are active in are the following: poverty, child hunger, family support, the support of disadvantaged communities, Roma integration, fight against discrimination and exclusion, work with refugees, work with LGBTQI groups, establishing cultural dialogue.

During the first discussion, the participants raised several connecting issues and further questions and problems. Some of these issues concerned the relationship and the possible cooperation among civil and religious organizations; other issues dealt with the relationship between civil activism and politics. Moreover, the possibility to establish a Jewish relief fund by organizations and institutions was also brought up.

Concerning the latter, several questions and proposals were articulated: a value-based consensus; the secured resources and available capacity by each and every organization and institution; possible areas where such a fund should be active in in the future. Many participants also brought up questions concerning representation. As part of a short-term action plan, someone proposed to start a website to help the flow of information and the exposure of the fund. During the last discussion of the forum, many expressed their support for such a website.

During the afternoon, the participants listened to the presentation of Mr. Péter Heindl, an expert and activist. Among other things, Mr. Péter Heindl talked about his decades-long experience in the field of Roma integration, and about the institutions and programs he initiated and operated in Baranya county. In his presentation, he talked about the topics of creating opportunities, education, work, and integratino in more details. Mr. Péter Heindl emphasized it several times that real social change can be achieved by long-term investment and empowerment. Many in the audience commented on what was said by Mr. Heindl and asked questions mostly about his initiatives and specific activities.

To end the forum, the participants shared their comments on the forum and then they discussed the possibility to continue these meetings. All the participants thought it was a great idea to start these forums and expressed their interest in continuing their participation in the future. Many of them brought up various ideas and suggestions, which will be discussed in the next meeting.