ORT Birthplace Defaced


World ORT Update 13 November 2001 Anti-Semitic graffiti appeared last week under the memorial plaque that marks the building in St. Petersburg, where in 1880, ORT was founded. The graffiti written in spray paint below the plaque reads’Yids get out of Russia’ The building at 3 Galernaya Street bears a plaque, which says the following: ‘In this building in 1880 The Society of Handicraft and Agricultural Labour was founded by the St. Petersburg Jewish Community and made a substantial contribution to the vocational education of Russian Youth’. Below the plaque, ‘Yids get out of Russia!’ was scrawled in blue paint. World ORT resumed its work in the Russia in 1993 after an enforced absence of more than 50 years. Its first projects following the return were inaugurated in St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1995. Since ORT has reinstated itself in the country, it continues to have good working relations with and strong support from the CIS authorities such as the Ministry of Education, and with the cities’ mayors. Complaints regarding the graffiti were sent to the local authorities by ORT’s staff in St. Petersburg. The graffiti has now been removed and the wall repainted by the administration of the Historical Archive of St. Petersburg who own the building. ‘Senseless acts of hatred like these show that anti -Semitism is still prevalent throughout the CIS. As an organisation specialising in education, we must continue to strive to remedy this type of ignorance that spawns intolerance,’ said Robert Singer, Director General of World ORT. ORT operations in Russia are also carried out in close co-operation with the local Jewish authorities, the Russian Jewish Congress, the Israeli government and local Jewish organisations like the Jewish Agency and the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Background Since returning to Russia in 1993, ORT programmes in the CIS and Baltic States have rapidly gained a remarkable reputation. Today the demand in this region for the education and training that ORT can provide constantly exceeds the supply.In 1999, ORT had approximately 4,000 students in the CIS and Baltic States. By the end of 2001 the number of students is expected to reach up to 20,000 spread over a wide range of primary and secondary schools, as well further education programmes run through local colleges and universities. In addition, many operations are designed to provide the wider and adult community with vocational training courses. World ORT is one of the largest non-governmental education and training organisations in the world, with past and present activities in over 100 countries. A non-profit, non-political organisation, ORT’s objective is to meet the educational and vocational requirements of diverse students throughout the world. During the year 2000, World ORT trained more than 290,000 students through its network of programmes, training centres and schools. World ORT is responsible for coordinating the international activities of it associate bodies, the National ORT Organisations that span five continents.