Israeli leaders praise World ORT


05 February 2007 Israeli leaders praise World ORT Israeli leaders have praised World ORTs contribution to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit and Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer are among those who have written of their admiration for World ORTs historic role in Jewish life. Their comments are among the letters that have poured into World ORTs administrative office in London since the publication of The Hope and the Illusion The Search for a Russian Jewish Homeland in January. The book contains previously unpublished photographic and documentary evidence of the ultimately tragic attempt at Jewish autonomy in southern Ukraine, the Crimea and Birobidzhan between 1924 and 1938 and World ORTs material support for the project. ORTs involvement in this unique experiment in Jewish autonomy must be a source of great pride, Mr Olmert wrote. The Soviet Jewish autonomy is an illustrative contrast to the Zionist movement in Eretz Israel at the same time, and if not for the outbreak of the Great Terror and World War Two, our history may have taken an entirely different direction. He added that he was pleased to add this remarkable book to my library. From the front cover of The Hope and the Illusion. ORT has undoubtedly played a significant role in Jewish history and I trust your organisation will continue to cement its position as a central component of its development, Mr Peres wrote. Mr Ben-Eliezer wrote: I would like to thank World ORT for your important work, and for being part of Jewish history for the past 127 years, and of course for your great contribution to Jewish life. Please continue with your important work. Mr Sheetrit wrote: The important work that World ORT accomplishes has not gone unnoticed ORTs contribution is especially valued in these difficult times. May your activities dedicated toward the benefit of the Jewish People and the State of Israel continue to be blessed. The Deputy Speak of the Knesset, Colette Avital, conveyed her heartfelt gratitude for the role [ORT] has played over the past one hundred years in Jewish education. Fellow Knesset member Brigadier General (Res) Amira Dotan also wrote saying, The book is a testament to ORTs commitment to education and Jewish heritage. The Hope and the Illusion has also been welcomed by historians. Dr Eleonora Bergman, Director of the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, wrote: It is an amazing story and fascinating publication, enriched so much by the CD-ROM attached to the book. The detailed information revealing the scope of the Jewish agricultural settlements took Israels Ambassador to Moscow, Anna Azari, by surprise. It seems to me, Ms Azari wrote, that the album has double value it both sheds light on the little known, even obscure, part of Jewish history of the USSR and has artistic value for the history of photography. For me, as an incurable Zionist, the story of The Hope and the Illusion also serves as another vindication of Zionist ideals. Israels Deputy Minister of Immigration and Absorption, Dr Marina Solodkin, who made aliyah from Russia in 1991, described the book as fascinating; while Arthur Fried, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Avi Chai foundation, said it was illuminating. And Arnon Mantver, Director of JDC-Israel, commented on ORTs important role in the former Soviet Union. He added: In the famous words of David Ben Gurion: a nation without a past is a nation without a future; the book supports this same sentiment through fascinating photography. The book, CD-ROM and accompanying website ( are the result of two years work by staff at the St Petersburg ORT de Gunzburg Centre and World ORT professionals in London. 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.