NEW YORK (Jan. 22)
More than 100,000 men, women and young people–depending on events in Iran and the Soviet Union, the number may be even greater–will need and receive skill training and other economic and educational services in 1979 from ORT. To meet the increased needs, a record budget of $78,110,000 was adopted yesterday by the American ORT Federation at its national conference at the New York Hilton. The new budget is $23 million more than the organization spent in 1978 in 24 countries on four continents.
Outgoing American ORT president Harold Friedman, in proposing the expanded programs, noted that much of the required budgetary increase is the result of worldwide inflation and the drastic devaluation of the dollar. But a major factor,” he told the delegates, “is the urgent necessity to expand ORT programs to meet increased Jewish needs in response to critical events in many parts of the world. In the year just past, ORT programs in 24 countries enrolled almost 28,000 young, not so young, adults, refugees and others.” Currently ORT maintains a four-continent network of more than 700 schools and training facilities.
Some 600 delegates, representing over 160,000 members in communities throughout the country, elected Sidney E. Leiwant, a South Orange, N.J. insurance consultant, to succeed Friedman as president of the American ORT Federation. Dr. William Haber, of Ann Arbor, Mich, is honorary president.
Nearly half of ORT’s expenditures in 1979 will be made on behalf of almost 60,000 students in Israel in 88 ORT schools, Friedman indicated While hoping that ” local and governmental allocations to ORT Israel would be increased, ” the ORT leader added somberly that “Israel’s economic problems and defense needs do not permit optimism in this regard.”
Friedman noted that the number of Israeli youth of high school age enrolled in vocational and technical high schools now exceeds those in academic schools, which he described as “a massive reversal of the social and educational values of Israel.”
PROCESSING 6600 SOVIET JEWS FOR RESETTLEMENT
Gaynor Jacobson, executive vice president of the United HIAS Service, worldwide Jewish migration agency, told the conference that “in Vienna, Rome and its environs, more than 6,600 Soviet Jews are currently undergoing processing for resettlement in the West, mostly in the United States, and that since so many are ultimately bound for English-speaking countries, many heads of families are enrolled in English classes at the ORT schools in those areas.”
Thousands of Soviet Jews in transit have benefited from the services of Jewish agencies overseas. “Their very beginnings in the free world, “the HIAS executive added, “will have been enriched because of the service of ORT”
SITUATION IN IRAN UNPREDICTABLE
In his presentation, Friedman also cited, the situation in Iran, where ORT has been training some 1,200 students. “The 80,000 Jews in Iran are sitting pat in the traumatic crisis shaking that country, apparently hoping to continue as an accepted minority in the land where they have dwelled for the past 2,500 years, ” he declared.
Pointing out that in the present situation all schools in Iran are closed down, including the ORT schools, Friedman noted the impossibility of attempting to forecast the future in a situation where everything ” changes from hour to hour and from day to day, ” but expressed the hope that when things settle down the ORT schools will be able to function again.
A message from President Carter to the conference delegates noted that ORT is responsible for “opening doors of opportunity for thousands of youngsters in Israel and many other countries. Vast numbers of new refugees will need your help and benefit from your long experience in practical training.”