ORT is honored to have been presented with a prestigious humanitarian award given in memory of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
The organization was chosen as a recipient of the Let Freedom Ring Award, acknowledging our commitment to equality in education and our efforts to bridge the gap between ability and opportunity.
The award is given by the Rainbow Push Coalition, created out of the social justice movement that sought progressive economic, educational and social policies in the United States in the 1960s and ever since.
ORT was recognised in part for its International Co-operation program, which was created in 1960 to assist newly emerging and developing nations, and has since implemented more than 350 projects in 100 countries.
Dr Conrad Giles, President of World ORT, accepted the gold award at a ceremony at the Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan, fittingly on Martin Luther King Jr Day. It was at this venue that Dr King first used the phrase “I have a dream”.
Dr Giles told the audience: “I humbly accept this award… on behalf of the thousands of educators, the tens of thousands of volunteers, and over 100,000 donors to our efforts over the past 139 years of our existence.
“Our work in the sub-Saharan continent is central to the meaning of our very existence. Jewish law, the Talmud, demands Tikkun Olam – that we repair the world. We are demanded to play a part in it.
“It was that mandate that brought Rabbi Abraham Heschel to that iconic march in Selma, where he linked arms with Martin Luther King Jr and Ralph Abernathy. We at World ORT embrace those ideals that Martin Luther King Jr made his great legacy.
“You at Operation PUSH, and we at World ORT, are both in the dream business. We are in the business of making people capable of dreams and making them fulfil those dreams. Thank you so very much for your award.”
When news of the award was announced, Avi Ganon, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “I would like to express how grateful and honored we are to have been chosen to receive the Let Freedom Ring Humanitarian Award.
“Our mission is to empower the next generation through innovative education, working to ensure that all communities receive equal opportunities to build successful lives for themselves. It was what prompted our predecessors to establish ORT in 1880 and it is what continues to motivate us today.
“To have this work recognized – and to be associated with Dr Martin Luther King and yourself – is a great privilege, and an additional inspiration and motivation for the important work that remains for us to carry out in the future.”