Gina Harmatz Biography

Gina Harmatz, the late wife of Joseph, former Director General of World ORT Union, was born in Frankfurt in 1924, the second of seven children.


With Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933 the family moved to Paris where they led a frugal life.

With France under German occupation, in 1942 the deportation of Jewish families to the extermination camps began,  a fate which in July befell Gina’s mother and five of her brothers and sisters. At the time her father was serving in the Foreign Legion and her sister managed to flee to the unoccupied Vichy zone.

As fate decreed, Gina was spending the night at a friend’s home and returned to the crushing blow of her lost family, a trauma she lived with the rest of her life.

Gina made her way to Switzerland. She returned to France at the war’s end, emigrated to Israel in 1950 and in 1951 married Joseph Harmatz.  They had two sons, Zvi and Ronny, eventually making their home in Kfar Shmaryahu.  Gina used her creativity in making both her home and garden something special.  Her home was always open to all members of the ORT family where everyone felt instantly at home in the warm atmosphere created by Gina’s unique personality. Reading and listening to music were among her greatest pleasures and her understanding and knowledge were deep and extensive. Much admired, she greatly enjoyed the company of her close friends. 

Despite a long illness, Gina always maintained her willpower and courage. She set high standards, was gracious and refined, displayed exceptional personal qualities, and appreciated the importance of family relationships and concern for the welfare of others.  A uniquely balanced personality, Gina was at the same time resolute, determined and always maintained and expected the highest standards of human behaviour; on this subject she was uncompromising in her defence of human values.