It is with profound sadness that World ORT announces the death of Dr Gideon Meyer, who was the organisation’s Deputy Director General from 1999 until 2009.
Dr Meyer’s death comes after a long and brave battle against illness. The whole ORT family is united in wishing his widow, Sandy, and son, Michael, comfort and a long life.
The funeral, scheduled for Wednesday, December 8 at 2.30pm at Edgwarebury Lane Cemetery in Edgware, London, was to be followed in the evening by prayers at his home. World ORT Chief Operating Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita and World ORT’s recently retired Head of Jewish Education, Judah Harstein, spent time with their beloved colleague and friend shortly before he passed away. The organisation’s Director General and CEO, Robert Singer, has cut short a business trip to Europe to attend the funeral.
Dr Meyer’s term as Deputy Director General was the culmination of a long and highly effective career with the organisation he loved.
In his own words: “The whole of my adult life has been defined by ORT. I came, as a young Israeli teacher, to study at the ORT Anieres Institute in Geneva, and the ensuing decades have provided a rich kaleidoscope of experiences as I served the organisation in a variety of capacities. As a member of the Israeli national swimming team, I well remember learning that it is the individual who comes first that is remembered; not the one who comes second. Throughout my life with ORT I have applied that principle, and I have done my best to ensure that the organisation strives for the ultimate success in everything that it undertakes.”?
Mr Singer said: “World ORT has lost one of its most senior and devoted professionals. ORT was his life: he travelled the world visiting ORT operations and I called him ORT’s secretary-general because of his outstanding diplomatic skills.
“When I joined ORT, more than 10 years ago, Gideon was the one who introduced me to the organisation and taught me his love of students, education and of ORT. I will miss him and I know he will be sorely missed by ORT professionals around the world.
“He lives on as an example of professionalism and of devotion to the Jewish People.”?
Dr Gideon Meyer, who capped off a lifelong career at ORT as World ORT’s Deputy Director General from 1999 until 2009, died this month after a long illness. His friend and colleague, World ORT Chief Operating Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, shared her thoughts at the funeral.
Tonight we will be lighting the Chanukah candles for the last night. And we will have the mixed emotion of seeing the Chanukiah at its most beautiful “ﾓ at its brightest “ﾓ before the candles go out for another year.
And I can’t help but think how touching it is that we are celebrating Chanukah at this time.
Many translate the word Chanukah as “dedication”?. And Gideon, it was your dedication for so many years “ﾓ as a colleague but most importantly as a friend “ﾓ that made you a shining light at ORT, glowing brightness and warmth with your kindness and wisdom and “ﾓ like the chanukiah shamash “ﾓ able to touch everyone around you with your enthusiasm and humbleness.
Gideon, every morning, you were the one to turn the lights on at ORT house. I could not enter my own office before I went into yours and wished you a good morning.
We would talk about the previous day, our children, your grandchildren – and mostly discuss who said what to whom and what was happening in ORT offices around the world. Your guiding light was always helpful and something we all sought.
We worked together every single day, in offices facing each other; so that every single day, for 12 hours, we were able to see one another. I only had to glimpse at your face to understand the nature of your conversation “ﾓ and know whether we were about to receive a huge donation or face any one of the myriad challenges that life brings us.
Every afternoon, between 3 and 4, you got up from your office to make your own coffee (not Starbucks, but a personal touch, because that was the way you liked it) “ﾓ but only I knew that you could not have your coffee without a piece of chocolate next to it, so I would always make sure that you had one. Ever since then, I also got used to drinking my coffee with something sweet alongside it, and every time I do, I think of you.
These are only simple words, simple things of everyday life to describe you. You were the father figure in the office; at a time of trouble, doubt or emergency, your advice was sane and calm. [World ORT Director General and CEO] Robert [Singer] used to say that “ﾘonly Gideon could solve this’ “ﾓ and “ﾘthis’ could have been anything from conflicts with other countries to employee problems in the office – and personal problems too. You always shed light on the situation, knowing the right thing to do and how to come up with a sensible “ﾓ and sensitive “ﾓ solution.
The three of us “ﾓ you, Robert, and I “ﾓ were synchronised; we always worked with full cooperation, understanding, harmony and friendship. Your office is still empty, your briefcase is next to your desk, the books and souvenirs are on the shelves, and the famous plaque that welcomes everyone who comes to your office “ﾓ None of us is as smart as all of us are .
We miss you every day; how could we possibly forget you Gideon
You once told me that “ﾘthe whole of my adult life has been defined by ORT’. To show their admiration for you, many from the ORT family all around the world wanted me to share with everyone here today, just what you meant to them:
From Uruguay : Gideon was a wonderful mensch. He was a fine intellectual, warm, and a passionate member of the world of ORT. Life for him was a source of great achievements.
From France : His dedication and commitment to the development of various activities in our institution were appreciated and our international reputation owes much to him. A man of conviction, strong ideas, he always knew how to share them with kindness and patience.
From World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg : ORT without Gideon is not the same. He knew the organisation deep from within. I do not think that there was a country, a school, a headmaster, a teacher that Gideon had not visited, most often several times. He knew to listen, and then to find creative solutions to satisfy the needs of the children and adults that he tirelessly helped during his time at ORT.
From Russia : The whole ORT has suffered an irretrievable loss. Gideon was a nice person, an outstanding professional, and an expert in education. We send our regrets to all his relatives, friends and colleagues. Our souls are with yours today at this sorrowful moment.
From South Africa: An intellectual in his own right, passionate about service to our students, modest about his own accomplishments; he was the perfect role model and the ultimate example of what ORT stands for.
From Argentina: Gideon represented the idealistic concept of ORT over the world, and we deeply regret losing a friend who was frequently instrumental in the growth and progress of our organisation. He was a unique man, earnest, intellectual, highly cultured, empathetic, and deeply committed to his Jewishness and to the Jewish world as a whole. He was a real mensch and will never be forgotten. The world of education is in mourning because we have lost a tireless champion.
From British ORT: Gideon was an ORTnik “ﾓ compassionate, knowledgeable and exuding warmth “ﾓ a source of inspiration to teacher, student, professional, and volunteer. He will be missed as a friend and as an ambassador for ORT.
From Canada: Gideon was a wonderful human being “ﾓ always with a smile on his face and so very dedicated to ORT. He was what ORT is all about.
From Belgium: He was talented in so many ways; but the main characteristic that I will remember is that of a thoroughly good man dedicated to ORT, Israel, and to Judaism.
From our partners at Project Kesher: Gideon will always be remembered for his ability to turn dreams into reality. The leaders of Project Kesher dreamed of providing computer centres for the women throughout the Former Soviet Union and across seven time zones. Partnering with World ORT, and due to Gideon’s cleverness, determination and vision, the ORT Keshernet centres became a reality and continue to enrich and enhance the lives of many women. May his memory be a blessing.
From ORT Netherlands : Gideon was always so enthusiastic and such a good friend.
From Mexico: There is no doubt we have lost a magnificent human being who made history in our organization.
From Italy: His smile and total dedication to ORT’s mission and targets will never be forgotten.
From ORT Germany: Gideon Meyer was not just a member of the ORT family; he was a good friend of ORT Germany. As we say, he was a real mensch, friend, and colleague.
Tonight, when I light the Chanukia and hold the shamash candle high, I will think of you. I will think of the light you brought to ORT, to my life, and to all those you loved. I will thank you for sharing your light with me, and for lighting a magnificent torch which I am honoured to continue carrying on in your memory.