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World Ort Congress Opens in Geneva; Hears Greetings from Eisenhower

June 28, 1955
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With delegates in attendance from 27 countries, and messages of greeting from prominent world leaders, including President Eisenhower and President Itzhak Ben Zvi of Israel, the World ORT Union opened its world congress here last night, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the organization.

Paying tribute to ORT’s work in the field of rehabilitation as an “inspiring job,” President Eisenhower told the congress in his message: “The schools, vocational centers and training workshops which ORT sponsors among the free nations of the world contribute to the social and economic well-being of these nations. Your congress, while focusing attention upon the achievements of an exceptionally fine organization which has seen 75 years of devoted service to humanity, testifies to the fact that free men can voluntarily overcome differences of custom, race and nationality to work together for a good cause.”

Highlights of the opening session, held in the historic Electoral Palace here, were addresses by Dr. Aron Syngalowski, chairman of the ORT world executive committee, and David Morse, director-general of the International Labor Office, a United Nations specialized agency that has its world headquarters here.

The ILO and ORT have “much in common,” Mr. Morse declared, both organizations having expanded the scale and scope of their work in recent years. Pledging ILO’s continuing support to the work of ORT, Mr. Morse praised the World ORT Union highly for providing “constructive help to both emigration and immigration” in countries all over the world.


Dr. Syngalowski, outlining the history of ORT from its beginnings in Czarist Russia 75 years ago, pointed out that ORT has never “mixed politics” with its work, its “only aim being to increase the number of qualifired workers, improve the cultural level of the worker, contribute to the rebirth and reconstruction of the world on a peaceful basis–a world in which our people occupy a place corresponding to the Jew’s creative and historical powers.” ORT, said Dr. Syngalowski, is “a bridge leading from our ancient generation to the present–and from our time to the future.”

In summarizing ORT’s more recent accomplishments, today, Dr. Syngalowski paid special tribute to the work achieved by the organization in the United States. He had particular praise for the extension of ORT’s work to North African countries and to Iran, as well as the expansion of its activities in Israel. ORT has “taken root in the soil” of many countries in the last six years, Dr. Syngalowski reported. Among the “tests” met by ORT in the last half decade, he declared, was the need to shift its activities elsewhere after compulsory cessation of its activities in countries behind the Iron Curtain.

In the last six years, the ORT leader reported, more than 80,000 students have passed through the organization’s schools. Furthermore, the majority of students now are younger people. Adults had made up 75 percent of the students in 1949, he said, while last year the adults numbered only 25 percent. The number of students in European countries now totals 4,230. During the last six years, 29,000 students graduated from ORT schools. Tens of thousands of others had to emigrate before completing their courses.

Greetings were read by Dr. Syngalowski from many famous leaders, including messages from the United States from Senator Herbert H. Lehman and Edward M.M. Warburg; and outstanding Israeli personalities including Prime Minister Moshe Sharett and Minister of Labor Golda Myerson. A special award from the American ORT organization was presented at the opening session to Dr. Syngalowski.

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