Ort Schools Stressing Hi-tech Training and Jewish Education

ORT (Organization For Rehabilitation Through Training) is expanding sophisticated computer and robotics training courses at ORT schools in Israel, the U.S., France, Italy, Latin America, India, Morocco, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland while simultaneously putting a renewed emphasis on Jewish education at schools throughout the ORT global network, which serves 116,000 students.

This development will be presented by Alvin Gray, American ORT Federation (AOF) president, at the organization’s national conference Saturday night. The conference will mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the American ORT Federation.

Gray, who will complete the second year of his four-year term of office at the conference, notes that, “In the six decades since the American ORT Federation was founded in 1925, AOF has played a major pivotal role in meeting the challenges ORT was called upon to meet, during one of the most chaotic epochs in Jewish history. We are proud partners in the international ORT network which today is providing its students not only with top-flight technical education, but first rate Jewish education as well, in order that graduates of ORT schools will not lose touch with the rich Jewish history of the past as they master the complex technologies of the future.”

During the three-day conference, which begins tomorrow, some 500 delegates from American ORT groups throughout the United States will discuss current developments in the various national ORT programs, including the more than 100 schools and training centers in Israel, the largest ORT operation in the network. Some 80,000 students study at ORT schools in Israel, including recently arrived Jews from Ethiopia who attend special ORT training programs in Kiriyat Gat and Natanya.

ORT SCHOOLS COUNTER UNEMPLOYMENT

According to Gray, one of the most serious challenges facing many of the ORT networks is the problem of unemployment. In Israel, where thousands of young men and women newly discharged from the army enter the job market every year with virtually no marketable skills, ORT operates special training programs to prepare them for the jobs that are being created by new high technology industries. Older Israelis whose jobs have been phased out by the new technologies are being retrained for the changing job market as well.

In France, where ORT operates a network of eight schools serving 8,000 students, thanks to the high reputation ORT France schools have earned among employers, virtually all graduates of ORT schools find good jobs soon after graduation in fields ranging from auto mechanics to robotics.

And ORT India, where 800 students study at the ORT school in Bombay, reports that in a country where unemployment has traditionally been endemic, not a single recent ORT graduate is unemployed.

The situation is similar, Gray notes, throughout Latin America, where ORT students number 9,200 in Argentina, 3,000 in Brazil, 1,500 in Chile and 3,200 in Uruguay.

The 1,000 students of the ORT program in Morocco are part of a Jewish community which in recent years has been losing many of its young people as they leave for brighter futures in France or Israel. The sound training in subjects such as data processing assures them of productive lives in whatever country they choose to make their home.

The new computer literacy program in South Africa is in its second successful year. Four elementary schools and six high schools have joined the project which enables students to apply their computer training to the other subjects in their curriculum.

NEW ORT INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE IN CARMIEL

According to Gray, the ground breaking ceremony for the new Max Braude ORT International Institute will take place in Carmiel in Israel’s Region 2000 hitech development area in February, in conjunction with an American ORT Federation mission to tour ORT Israel schools.

When it opens its doors in 1986, the Braude ORT International Institute will be a two-year technical high school and will feature instruction in English, French and Spanish, as well as in Hebrew, in order to attract Jewish students from the diaspora who will study together with Israeli youngsters. The first such ORT school in the world, it is named for the late Max Braude, director-general of the World ORT Union for some 30 years.

The new Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute is also slated to begin operations in 1986 and will provide high level technical training to the Jewish community of Los Angeles. It will incorporate elements of the other two ORT projects in the U.S., the Bramson ORT Technical Institute in New York and the ORT computer literacy project in operation at the Jewish High School of South Florida in Miami.

Gray’s report acknowledges the support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee for its help in funding ORT programs. The ORT-JDC partnership dates from 1947 and during the intervening 38 years JDC funds to ORT have totalled $93,121,700. Dr. Woody Slater, Budget and Planning Director of the JDC, will make a presentation to the American ORT Federation in recognition of the AOF’s 60th Anniversary and to commemorate the nearly four decades of fruitful collaboration between JDC and AOF.

At the national conference banquet, Saturday night, a special presentation of the AOF Community Achievement Award will be made to former New York Sen. Jacob Javits “in recognition of his lifetime of service on behalf of the children of ORT and humanity at large.” Javits, a Board member of the American ORT Federation since the 1940′s, visited ORT training centers in DP camps in Germany immediately after World War II. His testimony before the Congress helped focus attention to the plight of the refugees and the work ORT was doing to prepare them for their new lives.

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