Author: Lívia Katona
The European Union defines social work to be a professional activity which strives to support and improve the adaption of individuals, families and the social environment they live in. To understand how the Jewish community did social work we must first know and understand their past and find their connections to social work.
Judaism teaches that not only those who are in need of help need helpers, but also those who help need someone to rely on. The Jewish community has common problems and through this unity they become stronger. There is a service which only society can accomplish. In this unity we may search for tolerance and mutual understanding. Judaism also represents ideas such as humanism, social justice, democracy, common law, and respect for life. For example, it values the ethical codex and stresses the importance of abiding by moral values which are written in the Torah.
According to Jewish law one must accept the dignity of each human. The law obliges anyone to take care of the weak, who have found themselves in a bad social situation: widows, orphans, foreigners, handicapped people, captives and the poor. Many references to the history of the Israelites are also stressing this, for example that God’s chosen nation was itself a “foreigner” in Egypt which is why they must be hospitable to each foreigner. According to the Jewish understanding of the human nature each human was created free and every one has the ability to choose between good and evil.
The goal of this book is to showcase the undeniable service the Jewish community has provided in complex social care, charity and social work. The first part is very important for the reader in order to get a better understanding of the present situation and the current social law. Today’s situation has developed over hundreds of years. In this chapter we give an overview of the social reforms in Slovakia, which have manifested under the pressure of changes in society. These changes led to the state to act as a guarantor and a subject of social politics, which through the pluralistic development of the public sphere has shifted individuals and other subjects to be providers of social care. Among others it becomes apparent where the Jewish community is situated in the current system.