ORT Morocco Chairman Jacques O’Hana


5 April 2006 Businessman Jacques OHana, who presided over the second half of ORT Moroccos existence as Chairman, has died. Ironically, Moroccos independence in 1956, to which Mr OHana was passionately committed, spelled the beginning of the end for ORT operations in the country as most of the Jewish community emigrated to Israel and the former colonial power, France. However, it was a slow decline and Mr OHana chaired an organisation that continued to provide essential educational and training services for the remaining Jews as well as increasing numbers of Arabs. While Jacques was chairman, ORT Morocco responded to the changing needs of the community, said World ORT Deputy Director General Gideon Mayer. The President of the Moroccan Jewish community, Serge Berdugo, paid homage to Mr OHana as a leader of our community, a servant of the Moroccan nation and a zealous proponent of charitable, sporting and social organisations. Jacques OHana ORT operations in Morocco started in 1948 with a vocational centre for abandoned children in Casablanca. Further schools, with an emphasis on practical vocational education to provide opportunities for self-sufficiency, opened in Casablanca, Marrakech and Tetuan. In 1957, a school for deaf children in Casablanca opened and a variety of other social and apprenticeship programmes were instituted throughout this period. By 1976, when Mr OHana became ORT Morocco Chairman, emigration had reduced the size of the Jewish community from 250,000 to some 30,000. Many of these migr s completed their studies at ORT schools in Montreuil, Villiers le Bel and Strasbourg. Some graduates were admitted to ORTs Anieres Institute in Switzerland. In 1997, ORT Morocco became the last of ORTs Jewish operations in North Africa to close. Moroccos remaining 5,000-strong Jewish community has, however, asked ORT to return to the country and plans are being formulated to see how best ORT can meet their needs following a visit there by Henri Levy, the Director of World ORTs International Cooperation arm.