The National Director of ORT Russia has said he wants the organisation to increase its work for the benefit of the country’s Jewish community.
Mikhail Libkin, who began working in the role in July, said ORT could provide the best education opportunities based on Jewish values including “tikun olam” – repairing the world.
“We want to help people to get the best education for the best future,” he said.
In 2019, ORT Russia would look to extend its activities and make its work accessible to more people.
Speaking after his first four months in the role, Mr Libkin said the position was a “huge responsibility” but also “a big opportunity”.
“I think I’m carrying ORT DNA in my blood,” he added – he is a former ORT school student and has been involved with the global education network in different capacities for 22 years.
Mr Libkin is keen to continue Russia’s rich and successful history of promoting ORT’s activities.
“Russia is the motherland of ORT. The organisation was established here in 1880 and worked until 1938 when it was closed during Stalin’s repressions.
“ORT in the USSR was reopened in 1991 and three years later we opened two schools in Russia – in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Now we have a lot of different activities, including a network of five schools; two in Moscow, as well as Saint Petersburg, Kazan and Samara.
“We have a network of ORT KesherNet centres in several cities, helping women gain vital employment skills training. There are two educational centres for young adults and adults in Saint Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.”
His own story has an ORT thread running consistently through it. As Mr Libkin describes it, “I have a big debt to ORT”. He believes the organisation opened doors and helped change his life.
Sent to an ORT school in Moscow at the age of 13, he was “hooked” by the IT education and equipment on offer. Both his parents had completed ORT computer courses in the mid-1990s, an experience which he says helped improve their work and the family’s quality of life at a difficult time.
In return, he says, “I want to put all my efforts towards giving access to the best education and best future for members of the Jewish community of Russia. And being a father of two young kids I have an obligation to make the best school for them, as well as for other kids from the community.”
Mr Libkin succeeded Dr Sergey Gorinskiy, who is now leading research and development for ORT in the Former Soviet Union.