ORT Cuba students in historic mission to Israel


21 July 2004 ORT students from Cuba, together with other Cuban Jewish youth, have embarked upon a cultural and fact finding visit to Israel. This is only the second time in the history of Cuba that Jews have been allowed to visit Israel and follows the lifting of restrictions in 2003.The group, which is participating in the Birthright program, will be in Israel from 16th to 26th July and is accompanied by William Miller, National Director of ORT Cuba, who was part of last years historic delegation. During their time in Israel the students will visit the ORT Moshinsky Pedagogical Centre for Research and Development where they will meet key ORT Israel personnel, and learn about some of the pioneering educational activities that are implemented and developed by ORT Israel for use in its extensive network of 156 school and colleges throughout the country. ORT Cuba students and their fellow Birthright participants at The ORT Moshinsky Pedagocical Centre, Israel. Birthright is a unique partnership between the people of Israel through their government, local Jewish communities and Federations (through the United Jewish Communities, Keren Hayesod and The Jewish Agency for Israel), and leading Jewish philanthropists. It provides a gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for young Jewish adults aged 18 to 26. The participation of the Cuban delegation was made possible through the support of the UIA Federations Canada, and the Cubans are part of a Canadian Birthright group. The Cubans have spoken of their pride at being able to represent their country and their Jewish community. Visiting Israel is an honour for me, because I think this is a great desire of any Jewish person, it is like a dream becoming true. To me, this is a great opportunity to learn about historical Jewish places, Israels different regions, the diversity of cultures and religions there are and also to meet young Jewish people, enthused Amed Reyes Pernas. I had always dreamt about this moment, preparing conditions in order to travel to Israel, a country I wanted to visit since I was a child. I have no words that help me to describe my feelings and I can just say it is an honour for me, it is a dream come true, added Sonia Gomez Canetti. ORT became active in Cuba in 1935 and after an absence of more than 40 years, was re-established in 2000 with the inauguration of the Ana and Ben Dizik ORT Technological Centre of the Cuban Jewish Community. Today ORT Cubas main objective is the provision of training in Information and Communications Technology, and to develop academic activities for the study of Hebrew and Judaism.