ORT Cuba celebrates double anniversary


22 December 2005 ORT Cuba has celebrated the fifth anniversary of the resumption of operations in the Caribbean state and dedicated the festivities to the 75th anniversary of Albert Einsteins visit to the island. The event also provided a platform for launching the first multimedia product about the Cuban Jewish Community. The CD-ROM, designed and developed by ORT Cuba, presents the past, present and future of the countrys Jewish community. Last year, ORT Cuba designed the communitys first official web site (http://www.chcuba.org/), which can be read in Spanish and English. The anniversary celebration featured a lecture by Professor Jose Altshuler a member of the local Jewish community as well as the Science Academy of Cuba on Einsteins 30-hour visit to Havana. In addition, an exhibition about Einsteins life was on display. ORT Cuba National Director William Miller said that the two anniversaries complemented each other. Not only is this Einstein Year, commemorating the centenary of the publication of Einsteins three most famous theories, but Einsteins personal support and respect for ORTs projects and principles are well known, Mr Miller said. From left: William Miller, Prof. Enrique Perez, historian Maritza Corrales, Mercedes de Altshuler, Prof. Jose Altshuler, Rafael Hernandez Rousseau. Einstein made a brief stop in Havana on December 19, 1930, en route from Belgium to San Diego, California. While in Cuba, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist visited the Medical, Physics and Natural Science Academy, the Cuban Geographic Society and the Cuban Society of Engineers as well as attending a Jewish community reception in his honour. During the commemorations, ORT Cuba presented a representative of the small Jewish community of Santiago de Cuba with childrens Hebrew learning books that had been donated by ORT Montreal. Mr Miller gave a presentation of ORT Cubas achievements over the past five years and outlined future projects aimed at the continued strengthening of the Jewish community throughout the island. From left: William Miller, Adela Dworin, Eugenia Farin Levy, ORT Cuba academic advisor Irene Klaindorf. The winners of the ORT Cuba history competition were presented with their awards: ORT students Sumiko Ruiz Zayon, 18, received the first prize, Monica Geler, 23, and Amanda Adato, 30, both of them students in ORT Cubas adult education programme, shared second prize, and 11-year-old ORT student Juan David Garcia Rudnika received a special commendation. ORT Cuba thanks World ORT for supporting our activities since November 22, 2000, said Mr Miller. Since then nearly 2,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish have benefited from 195 courses. Among the special guests joining the ORT Cuba educators and students at the anniversary celebrations were Adela Dworin, vice President of the Cuban Jewish Community, Eugenia Farin, President of the Jewish Congregation in Santiago de Cuba, and Issac Rousso, President of Bnai Brith Cuba. An ORT committee was set up by members of Cubas Jewish community in 1935 but a school, which catered to the needs of newly arrived Jewish immigrants, was not founded until 1943. This school closed at the end of the war as many of the refugees went to new homes, but a vocational centre were set up two years later. This project was popular but closed in 1959 as the Jewish population declined. Currently, the Ana and Ben Dizik ORT Technology Centre at the Jewish Community Centre in Havana has 557 part-time students registered for 59 courses ranging from Hebrew and psychology to ICT, computer programming and web design. In addition, ORT Cuba provides a summer school for minors and for three consecutive years ORT Cuba students have participated in the Taglit-Birthright Israel programme. World ORT, founded in 1880, is the worlds largest Jewish educational and vocational training non-government organisation with some 270,000 students Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries.