The largest Jewish high school in the Former Soviet Union is set to be established in the Moldovan capital, Kishinev.
Following a warm meeting between top World ORT lay leaders and management and Moldovan Prime Minister Vladimir Filat, more than six months’ preparatory work by World ORT Representative in the CIS and Baltic States David Benish has been given the seal of approval.
“I very much appreciate ORT’s contribution to my country,”? Prime Minister Filat said. “I know ORT’s reputation internationally and I support every decision, every step, it takes in Moldova.”?
His Government has provided a 4,000-square-metre school in the centre of Kishinev which will not only be able to comfortably accommodate all the students from ORT’s two existing schools in the city “ﾓ ORT Herzl Technology Lyceum and ORT Rambam “ﾓ but will also have plenty of space to increase enrolment. “When the ORT school in Kishinev opens, it will be the largest Jewish school in the Former Soviet Union and one of the largest in Europe. We are extremely excited about this,”? said World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer.
The potential to expand is critical to the prospects of the 35,000-strong Jewish community’s children, who are already being attracted to the ORT schools in greater numbers. This year, the Kishinev ORT schools’ enrolment increased from 642 to 719 because of the high quality of the education on offer “ﾓ ORT Herzl, 80 per cent of whose graduates win university scholarships, is the only Moldovan school chosen by Microsoft for one of its international educational initiatives.
“The only buildings available for these schools in the 1990s were former kindergartens which don’t have the design and facilities our teenage students need,”? Mr Benish. “The new building is 20 years younger than the ones we use at the moment and has a sports hall, laboratories and rooms which can be readily adapted to suit the needs of a modern, growing high school committed to excellence in scientific and technological subjects. And it will enable us to meet increasing applications for enrolment.”?
Classes from ORT Herzl will start to move into the new school in January with ORT Rambam students making the transition from about April. Members of last week’s World ORT mission to Kishinev and Odessa, which was chaired by World ORT President Emeritus Sir Maurice Hatter, have committed themselves to attending the new school’s opening at the start of the new academic year in September.
“Creating this new school generated a lot of excitement among mission members and prompted financial commitments from Sir Maurice and Lady Hatter, ORT Moldova President Ilan Shor and British ORT Trustee Simon Aron,”? Mr Benish said.
The merger will also allow benefits accrued by ORT Herzl over a decade of investments through World ORT’s Regeneration 2000 and 2004 campaigns to be shared with the students at ORT Rambam.
“ORT Rambam joined our network only two years ago and the international economic crisis has made it difficult for us to raise the funds necessary to make the desired improvements,”? said Mr Benish. “Being together in the same school will mean that the strides we have taken in raising standards at ORT Herzl will be shared, as will the benefits from our current QUEST campaign.”?
Mr Shor, who became ORT Moldova’s president in 2009 at the tender age of 22, was deeply touched by Sir Maurice and Lady Hatter’s proposal to name the new school after the national organisation’s inaugural president, his late father, Miron.
“I’m very happy about this project; it will be a fitting tribute to my father’s ideals,”? he said.
World ORT Mission members Sir Maurice and Lady Hatter, ORT France President Lucien Kalfon, European Day of Jewish Culture in Switzerland Nadia Guth Biasini, Lower Galilee Mayor Moti Dotan, and British ORT Trustee Simon Aron spent five days in Ukraine and Moldova to see the impact of ORT’s projects there.
As well as the ORT schools in Kishinev, they toured the new computer centre at Odessa’s Tikva Orphanage and the Ukrainian capital’s ORT School and Technology Centre.