World ORTs contributions to the State of Israel have been extolled by the countrys Vice Prime Minister, Sylvan Shalom. Israeli Vice Prime Minister Sylvan Shalom addressing the British ORT Annual Gala Dinner. In a stirring speech to 260 people at British ORTs Gala Dinner, at the Marriott Hotel, London, Mr Shalom praised ORT for supporting the building of a new, safer campus for the Shaar HaNegev High School. The schools 1,170 students have suffered terribly over the years because of rockets fired from Gaza, less than three kilometres away. What were trying to do is to give these children a normal life, the possibility to live in peace and quiet, said Mr Shalom, who is also Minister for Regional Development and the Development of the Negev and the Galilee. The rocket-proof building that you are financing at Shaar HaNegev will help the children who live there to stay there without fear. I thank you on behalf of those children. The dinner, which was sponsored by JP Morgan, raised 365,000 ($608,000) towards a campaign for a reinforced, high-tech Science and Technology Centre for the new campus. Mr Shalom went on to describe World ORTs support for disadvantaged communities in the Negev and the Galilee such as Smart Classes which will enable children in development towns to get everything they need to get an education, and education services for children in hospitals. Supporting such communities was not only helping current residents to stay in their homes, it was helping Israel in its goal to settle more people in those areas, away from the crowded Tel Aviv conurbation. And in giving disadvantaged children the opportunities that only good education can bring, World ORTs Kadima Mada programme was strengthening the country as a whole. I know that you are very much committed to the safety and security of the State of Israel, Mr Shalom said. With your support and your commitment, I am sure we can bring a better future to those who live in the Negev and the Galil already as well as for those who plan to live there. I thank you for helping ORT, for while helping ORT you are helping us. The critical situation facing Shaar HaNegev was brought home in a powerful video shown after Mr Shaloms speech. Children were shown taking cover during a Red Alert warning of a rocket attack. In the video, the schools principal, Aharon Rothstein, emphasises that a good, safe school is essential for the survival of the whole community. To stay here we have to promise people the best, he says. Its not a question of whether or not we can do it. Its a question of existence. But the dinner was not confined to raising money. Simon Alberga, who was making his first address as British ORT Chairman, reminded guests of two milestones being celebrated that evening: the 80th birthday of World ORT President Emeritus Sir Maurice Hatter and the 130th anniversary of the founding of ORT. Mr Alberga said: It is nothing short of miraculous that ORT has not just survived but has prospered for so long through numerous wars and political and economic upheavals. I believe our extraordinary durability is testament to the continuing strength and relevance of our cause to provide Jewish people around the world with the education and skills they need to lift themselves out of poverty and lead meaningful and dignified lives. The Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, echoed these sentiments in a message for the event. Describing ORT as one of the great organisations of the Jewish world, the Chief Rabbi wrote that in providing an education to vulnerable communities throughout the world it has exemplified one of Judaisms greatest values. We are the people who predicated our very existence as a people on education The Egyptians built pyramids. The Greeks built temples. The Romans built amphitheatres. Jews built schools. The civilisations of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome have long since disappeared. Judaism still lives and flourishes and survives. ORT is testimony to that truth. Unfortunately, Sir Maurice who founded IMO Precision Controls in 1972 was unable to attend the dinner and was represented by his wife, Irene, and children Richard, Andrew and Caroline. In messages printed in the event programme, Israels Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, paid tribute to Sir Maurices unwavering commitment to the Jewish people and the State of Israel and his generosity of spirit, and former British prime minister Tony Blair thanked him for his extraordinary and wonderful work across so many different areas, nations and peoples. In his address, Richard Hatter explained what top British broadcasting executive Michael Grade CBE described in his speech as Sir Maurices 28 years of incredible service to ORTs mission. He left school at 17 and did military service in the Middle East just before the foundation of the State of Israel, he said. He was trained as a radio mechanic and immediately recognised the value of a practical education and the importance of a vocational skill for life. Many years later this would lead to a long standing relationship with ORT culminating in his presidency of World ORT… ORT offers an education for life, the ultimate form of charity, and for over 30 years Maurice has seen the real difference ORT has made across four continents. Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor, in his address, thanks British ORT, saying: Your work with the Shaar HaNegev school near Sderot is a timely show of support with Israeli school children who have known the trauma of terror. It is essential that Jewish people throughout the world continue to demonstrate such warmth, love and solidarity towards all the People of Israel. British ORTs Director of Fundraising, Dr Noga Zivan, said the money raised had exceeded expectations and noted the good atmosphere at the event which she attributed to the mix of new and veteran supporters creating a real sense of warmth and enthusiasm. British ORT is in a process of renewal, Dr Zivan said. There an optimism and commitment among the donors, Trustees and the professional staff and that comes through. World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg paid tribute to British ORTs lay leaders and professionals for doing a terrific job. Ive never seen a British ORT event as good as this one, Dr de Gunzburg said. Its showing the right face of the organisation, doing it the right way. Dr de Gunzburg co-chaired a meeting at ORT House with Mr Shalom the day after the Gala Dinner. The informal meeting, at which Ambassador Prosor, British ORT Vice Chairman Mark Mishon, World ORT Board of Trustees member David Woolf, and World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer were also present, was an opportunity to update the minister on mega-projects which World ORT is undertaking at Shaar HaNegev and Kiryat Yam through its Kadima Mada programme. And Mr Shalom explained his priorities for developing the Galilee and the Negev. A parallel meeting was held between World ORT professional staff and the Director General of the Ministry for the Development of the Galilee and the Negev, Orna Hozman-Bechor, and the Deputy Ambassador of Israel, Talia Lador-Fresher, to discuss practical aspects of the partnership between Kadima Mada and Mr Shaloms ministry. This was the first time that a vice prime minister of Israel has visited ORT House, Mr Singer said. This is a tribute to our activities in Israel. We were very impressed by the plans of the Vice Prime Minister and World ORT will be honoured and happy to be part of these different initiatives because our programmatic focus is in the peripheral areas that the ministry is responsible for.