130 Years of “Educating for Life”: Highlights of World ORT’s Illustrious History and Contemporary Achievements

1880 A small group of prominent Russian Jews petition Tzar Alexander II for permission to start a fund to help lift Russia’s five million Jews out of crushing poverty. ORT, Obschestvo Remeslenovo i zemledelcheskovo Trouda (the Society for Trades and Agricultural Labour) is founded.

1881 to 1906 ORT raises over a million rubles and provides trade skills to 25,000 Jews in 350 towns of the Russian Empire.

1914 to 1918 During World War I, ORT’s cooperative workshops, soup kitchens and credit offices save thousands from starvation. ORT sets up a Relief-through-Work project to find employment for displaced Jews.

1921 World ORT Union is established by ORT leaders at a conference in Berlin.

1922 The American ORT Society, forerunner of American ORT, is established.

1930s World ORT starts its operations in Latin America.

1938 Stalin’s purges end ORT operations in the Soviet Union.

1941 ORT conducts vocational training courses in the Kovno Ghetto until 1943.

1945 ORT begins work in the post-war DP (displaced persons) camps.

1949 ORT Israel is established.

1949 The Iron Curtain forces the closing of ORT programmes in Eastern Europe.

1947-1950 ORT begins operations in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Iran.

1959 The Syngalowski Center is created in Tel Aviv – the first modern vocational education institution in Israel.

1960 ORT International Cooperation activities commence.

1960s ORT Israel and ORT France meet increasing demands for training from the influx of Jews from North Africa and Eastern Europe.

1970s Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay become major centers of operation for ORT in Latin America.

1976 ORT School of Engineering opens on the campus of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

1985 ORT Israel helps to absorb the first large wave of olim from Ethiopia.

1988 ORT Braude International Institute of Technology in Karmiel, Israel opens.

1990 ORT returns to Russia after a 52-year absence with the signing of an agreement with the Academy of Sciences and Ministry of Education.

1995 ORT schools open in Moscow and St Petersburg.

1996 ORT enters the Internet Superhighway, linking its centers around the world through ORTnet.

1999 Agreements are signed with the government and local education authorities leading to a sixfold increase in ORT student numbers in the former Soviet Union.

2000 World ORT gains acceptance to receive funding directly from the Jewish Federations of North America and begins project-based fundraising

2000 Creation of the Regeneration 2000 Campaign and the establishment of a new network of ORT schools and educational centres in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Kiev, Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk, Minsk, Kishinev, Vilnius and Riga.

2004 Inauguration of the World ORT 1880 Society for ORT’s most inspirational and generous donors.

2004 ORT’s Next Generation Initiative is launched and the first meeting of ORT’s next generation of lay leaders is held in Paris.

2006 Merger of American ORT and Women’s American ORT is successfully completed. ORT America is born.

2006 ORT Strasbourg becomes the first private college in France to offer a three-year bachelor degree course in collaboration with a university with the introduction of its Licence Professionel des Métiers de l’Optique et de la Vision with the Louis Pasteur University.

2007 Establishment of Science Journey / Kadima Mada in Israel – the new World ORT initiative to redefine science and technology education in Israel.

2007-2011 World ORT introduces new technology and new pedagogical methods into Israeli schools in successful cooperation with central and local government departments. Quality of education in Israel’s periphery is significantly strengthened.