Lady Berlin, granddaughter of ORT co-founder Baron Horace de Gunzburg and a passionate lifelong supporter of the organisation, has died aged 99. Born Aline Elisabeth Yvonne de Gunzbourg, Lady Berlin was a pioneer of British Women’s ORT and her late husband, the Oxford philosopher and historian of ideas, Sir Isaiah Berlin z”?l, was a founding member of World ORT’s Academic Advisory Council.
Lady Berlin’s son, the publisher Peter Halban, said his mother always felt the family attachment to ORT.
“She felt proud in a modest way that her grandfather was responsible for getting ORT going and felt very close to the organisation. The family link remains through my cousin, [Dr] Jean [de Gunzburg], who is Chair of World ORT’s Board of Trustees, and others, and I hope to continue it,”? Mr Halban said.
Dr de Gunzburg, whose great-grandfather, Salomon, was Baron Horace de Gunzburg’s brother, said Lady Berlin was a larger than life figure who counted among her friends some of the most distinguished names in politics, business, science and the arts.
“We’re all very sad at this enormous loss,”? he said. “She had an incredible love for life. She was always looking to the future “ﾓ rather like ORT itself. I really admired her; she was a fantastic person.”?
He said that Lady Berlin had passed on to her family a “strong link”? with ORT.
“Members of the families of the founders still feel very much that this is an organisation to be proud of and want a family association with it. It’s something quite unique among organisations such as this,”? Dr de Gunzburg said.
World ORT Director General and CEO Shmuel Sisso said that with Lady Berlin’s passing, the ORT family had lost one of its most distinguished members.
“We offer our deepest condolences to her family. We share a sense of loss but we also feel an immense appreciation for the great good she brought into the world. We will strive to honour her memory in the work we do for the organisation she loved so much,”? he said.
In 1997, World ORT Chief Programme Officer Vladimir Dribinskiy hosted Lady Berlin in his then capacity of Director ORT St Petersburg, the city where Baron Horace de Gunzburg co-founded ORT in 1880.
“St Petersburg was a remarkable place for her because of her family’s history. She was a delightful companion with a deep knowledge and appreciation for Russian literature and culture which led to many fascinating conversations. I showed her the ORT school and she generously endowed it a new library which is still much used and enjoyed,”? Mr Dribinskiy said.
A decade later, Lady Berlin and her family became major supporters of the new Science and Technology Centre at the ORT Yerushalaim Secondary School in St.Petersburg, where it played an important part in World ORT’s push to raise its teaching of technology and other subjects in the region to international levels.