Cuban communities connected by ORT


October 03, 2007 ORT connects Cubas Jewish communities Cubas fragmented Jewish community is being brought closer together thanks to a new intranet system being set up by ORT. ORT Cubas Havana-based National Director William Miller has been busy installing computers in each of six small provincial Jewish communities. By mid-October all the congregations will have email and remote access to the main server. The congregations are all very happy and very proud with this project, Mr Miller said. For most of them this is the first computer they have had. It is going to result in a leap forward in communications and a huge increase in educational opportunities. He said that, thanks to the new email links, the first distance learning programme a course in Judaism was due to be up and running by the end of October. In addition educational programmes developed by ORT Argentina and other Spanish-speaking ORT teams are due to be incorporated in ORT Cubas ever increasing syllabus. The Jewish community in Cuba, which officially numbers approximately 1,500, is growing, Mr Miller said, as a greater openness to religious practise reawakens an interest in ethnic roots amongst assimilated Jews. Expanding and improving ORT programmes is another way to attract more people back into the community by appealing to their appetite for educational opportunities, he said. William Miller and the President the Jewish community of Santiago de Cuba, Eugenia Farin Levy, with the communitys new computer linking them with the rest of the island. ORT Toronto is fully funding this project. ORT Toronto Executive Director Lindy Meshwork said their support was rooted in the personal relationships established with Cuban Jewish teenagers who had stopped in Toronto on the way home from a Birthright trip to Israel two years ago. We heard from them how there was a disconnect not only between the communities but from their Jewish roots. The new computer links will help them to build a stronger communal identity and to build on their excitement at learning more about what it means to be Jewish, Ms Meshwork said. ORT returned to Cuba in 2000, following an agreement brokered by World ORT Director General Robert Singer with the countrys Ministry of Education. Since then, under Mr Millers professional leadership, ORT Cuba has steadily increased the technical and vocational training it provides at the Ana and Ben Dizik ORT Technology Centre at the Jewish Community Centre in Havana. Every year, hundreds of members of the Jewish community enrol in dozens of courses, ranging from Hebrew, leadership skills and psychology to ICT, computer programming and web design. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.