Impressive turnout for ORT Montreal


30 November 2009 Impressive turnout for ORT Montreal More than 700 people have packed out the Place des Arts in Quebecs largest city for ORT Montreals 26th Annual Benefit Gala. The attendance was impressive not only for its size particularly in straitened economic times but also for the broad range of backgrounds of supporters. We are proud to be able to appeal across cultural, religious and linguistic lines, said ORT Montreal President Edita Friedman. This was reflected at our event which attracted Jewish and non-Jewish supporters, French- and English-speakers, individual donors and representatives of major corporations. The huge crowd was entertained by a Beatles tribute band, the Classical Mystery Tour, backed by a 30-piece orchestra from McGill Universitys Schulich School of Music chosen not only for their skill but as an expression of ORTs mission to support students around the world. The Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings lists McGill University as the top university in Canada and the 18th in the world. From left to right, Emmanuel Kalles, National Director of ORT Canada, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, Head of International Liaison at World ORT, Raymond Chr tien, 2009 ORT Montreal Gala Honouree, Edita Friedman, President of ORT Montreal, Erle Shrier, Chairman 2009 ORT Montreal Gala. The diversity of the audience was matched by the ORT programmes described by World ORT Chief Development and Public Affairs Officer Sonia Gomes de Mesquita in her address from introducing Smart classrooms to Israeli schools to providing a rainbow of educational training opportunities to people across the Former Soviet Union; the cutting-edge innovation of ORT Argentinas Virtual Campus to the creation of strong and productive links with local industry by ORT Brazil, and delivering essential vocational training, transportation development and democracy building to people across Africa and Asia. Among those impressed by the experience was ORT Montreal honouree Raymond Chretien, one of Canadas most distinguished diplomats. During his 38 years of diplomatic service, Mr Chretien was Canadas ambassador to France, the USA, Belgium, Mexico and the Congo. In 1996, he was appointed as the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. Mr Chretien is now a partner and strategic advisor at leading Canadian corporate law firm Fasken Martineau. I was privileged to be honoured by ORT, Mr Chretien said. As I learned about ORT I realised that it is doing great educational work in many of the countries where I have served as a diplomat. He added: I like ORTs very practical approach to education. And the fact that one of the best universities in South America is run by ORT brought home to me the scope of its activities. I am invited to participate in many events but since this one ORT has a new friend in me. ORT can count on me to do whatever I can. We will keep in good contact. Ms Friedman, whose parents-in-law were among the 80,000 Holocaust Survivors trained by ORT in the Displaced Persons camps of liberated Europe, said Mr Chretien embodied some core ORT values: recognition of educations critical importance and a vision of making the world a better place by fostering international cooperation. The evening was a great success in terms of raising our profile and raising awareness of ORTs work having someone of the stature of Raymond Chretien to be our honouree will help us to meet our objective of continuing to raise that profile, she said. That we were able to get the same number of people to attend as last year is remarkable in the current economic climate. And it is very satisfying that we raised a similar amount to last year, she added. No surprise, then, that Ms Friedman was able to tell the crowd at the Gala, which included Israels Consul General Yoram Elron, prominent Quebec politician Lawrence Bergman, and Gerry McCaughey, President and CEO of major financial institution CIBC, which was the event sponsor: I look to the future with great optimism and believe that collectively we will continue to make dreams become a reality for young people who depend on us to give them a chance to make a difference. Ms Gomes de Mesquita said it had been fantastic to be invited to participate in what had been a magnificent gathering. ORT Montreal is one of our most important and successful fundraising organisations, she said. The effort and energy they put in is reflected in the $400,000 raised at the event, money which will help us to make substantial and lasting differences in the lives of young people around the world.