Tatiana chose an ORT school for her children – now she enjoys rediscovering Jewish traditions with them

ORT brings families back from the brink of assimilation

ORT schools provide a warm, accepting and safe environment in which students and their parents are able to rekindle, explore and celebrate their Jewish identity. They are an entry point for those on the margins of the community: their excellent education attracts parents keen to give their children the best start in life while their non-denominational Jewish Studies programme is accessible and acceptable to families from the widest possible range of observance and affiliation.

Tatiana Elokhina, whose children, Ratibor and Arina, attend the ORT Pri Etz Chaim Jewish School in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, is a single mother who deeply appreciates the sanctuary which the school provides her family.

“My family was assimilated and I did not pay much importance to the fact I was Jewish,” she said. “But when my husband and I quarrelled I was always subjected to insults related to my Jewish roots. I couldn’t put up with the harsh treatments given to me and my child.” Similar experiences also led to the collapse of her second marriage, but Tatiana emerged defiant.

My experiences made me think about my origin – I had no reason to be ashamed! I had a strong desire to tell my children about their Jewish roots and to accustom them to Jewish traditions. I learned about the ORT school from friends and fate gave me a wonderful opportunity to fulfil my desire.

ORT provides safe and secure schools, even during a time of civil unrest

Her children started at ORT during a time of civil unrest in Kyrgyzstan during which there were expressions of antisemitism. 

“Friends warned me of the danger of sending the children to a Jewish school but I’ve never doubted their safety at ORT Pri Etz Chaim. Thanks to the support of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) there is an effective security system in place, including guards, CCTV and a strong perimeter fence – and the school has its own bus service. It’s perhaps the safest school in the city!”

In addition, the hot meals provided with the IFCJ’s help mean that her children’s physical, as well as intellectual and spiritual, growth is assured.
“It’s not easy raising children alone,” Tatiana said. “I work hard from morning ‘til night without holidays and weekends as a market stallholder. But when I get home I may be tired but I feel well knowing that my children have been getting a good education. And I don’t need to worry about whether my children are hungry – I know that they are always well-fed with tasty, home-style, kosher food… My children had no luck with fathers but the care we have received from ORT and the IFCJ has given our family a future.”