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Ort Increasing Its Programs in Most World Jewish Population Centers

January 21, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

ORT (The Organization For Rehabilitation Through Training) has seen a significant increase in its vocational/technical training programs serving Jews in most of the world’s major Jewish population centers during the past four years.

At the same time ORT is being forced to end its programs for Jews in Iran and the Falashas of Ethiopia and to severely limit its programs in Rome for Jews leaving the Soviet Union, according to a report by American ORT Federation president Sidney Liewant which will be presented at the organization’s national conference banquet Saturday.

Liewant, who will conclude his four years of AOF presidency at the conference, notes that “ORT has been a mirror of Jewish life and history during the past four years, as ORT has always been since it first began in Czarist Russia 103 years ago in 1880 and as ORT will continue to be in the future. We will expand our programs wherever possible.”

During the three-day conference, which begins tomorrow, some 500 delegates from American Men’s ORT groups throughout the United States will discuss the new directions to be taken by ORT in the 1980’s and 1990’s in its global network of 800 schools and training centers which serve some 100,000 students.


According to Liewant, ORT Israel has become an increasingly important part of ORT operations in recent years, with a current total of 74,000 students in 104 schools and training centers. One of the most outstanding ORT projects is the ORT school of Engineering, located on the campus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

First opened in 1976 with a student body of 608, it was dramatically expanded with the dedication of the school’s second stage last September. Current enrollment totals some 2,500 students training in high technology and computer based fields up to the level of practical engineer.

A part of the country’s national fabric since the establishment of the State of Israel, during the hostilities in Lebanon, 32 graduates of ORT Israel schools fell in action, nearly 10 percent of the casualty rate.


In France, Liewant’s report continues, ORT’s second largest operation has grown to serve 8,500 students in eight schools throughout the country. Most of the students are children of the thousands of Sephardic Jews from North Africa who in recent years have swelled France’s Jewish population to 700,000 making it the fourth largest in the world.

A new computer center at the ORT school in the Paris suburb of Choisy-le-Roi is in high demand among both high school students and adults.


In Latin America ORT has expanded its existing programs of creative education, distance education projects and vocational/technical training at the high school and college level and last Spring ORT Argentina enlarged the ORT Technical Institute of Buenos Aires with a new wing. At the dedication, Liewant presented a personal gift of a Torah scroll to the school’s synagogue.

In the United States, ORT has upgraded its computer programming and opthalmic technology courses at the Bramson ORT Technical Institute in New York City, the first and only technical college under Jewish auspices in the United States. Last December the school was granted an Absolute Charter from the New York Board of Regents.

ORT entered the American Jewish Day School System with a program of science and computer education at the Jewish High School of South Florida, which opened in 1981. Enrollment has nearly doubled to 200 for the current school year and the ORT program is in high demand.

In 1982, ORT opened its first operational presence since the 1940’s in Great Britain with an ORT Workshop in the Jewish Cultural Center in Manchester, England, a program which currently has eight instructors and 30 trainees.


At ORT schools in Morocco and India enrollment has increased and new programs have been added. A new school in Bombay is currently under construction.

But, says Liewant, not all ORT operations have expanded in recent years. In 1980 the Iranian government seized the ORT school in Teheran and shut down all ORT operations in Iran.

The ORT-American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee program which helped the Falashas of Ethiopia with wells, roads, vocational training and medical care was closed down by the Ethiopian government in 1981.

The ORT program in Rome, which once provided thousands of Jewish emigrants from the Soviet Union with vocational training for their new lives of freedom, has been greatly reduced since 1980 when the Soviet Union clamped down on Jewish emigration.

“In all the countries where ORT has been forced by turns of history and politics to limit or cease operations for Jews,” Liewant notes,” ORT stands ready to re-establish its programs of schools and training centers whenever changing situations permit. ORT will continue to serve the needs of Jews throughout the world wherever it is possible to do so.”

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