The Jewish Agency for Israel will provide World ORT with $1 million for the Heftsiba program in 15 ORT schools in the former Soviet Union.
The decision not only reverses an expected $350,000 budget cut but adds $650,000 to the agency’s support.
World ORT Director General Robert Singer said he was delighted and surprised by the Jewish Agency’s announcement, which heralds a “small, positive revolution in our schools” in the former Soviet Union.
Under the Heftsiba program, Israel’s Ministry of Education and the Jewish Agency help ORT provide formal Jewish education in Jewish schools in the former Soviet republics. Heftsiba is a partnership of local governments, World ORT, Israel’s Education Ministry, the Jewish Agency and local Jewish communities. It funds the salaries of Israeli teachers in many of the schools, school buses, meals and financial incentives for local teachers.
Two months ago, ORT representatives in Russia said they would have to end support for six of 15 Jewish day schools in the region because of the anticipated budget cut from the Jewish Agency. This week’s news dispels fears that the Jewish Agency would cut 40 percent of its annual $2.5 million allocation for 45 Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union.