ORT steps up level of activity in Bulgaria


World ORT Director General Robert Singer recently returned from a visit to Bulgaria where he met with the countrys Minister of Education, Mr Vladimir Atanassov and the Mayor of Sofia, Mr Stefan Sofianski, paving the way for an increased level of ORTs activities in the country. In addition to joining members of the community in a festive Pesach seder, Singer visited the students and teachers at the Lauder Jewish Elementary School #134 in Sofia. ORT established a computer centre there in 1992, and plans for a new ORT Science and Technology Centre are imminent. The ORT computer centre at the school provides enhanced facilities for the 680 students in the first through eighth grade who study there. As the school of choice for the citys Jewish Community, Hebrew and English classes are part of the curriculum, and it is regarded as one of the most prestigious schools in the city. The Jewish population of Bulgaria is estimated at 7,000 people with the largest concentration in Sofia. ORT began activities in Bulgaria in 1926. Coordinated with thee local Jewish authorities, its programmes included training workshops for woodwork, bookbinding, textiles and tailoring. After World War II, ORT re-established itself in Bulgaria, and in 1947, a technical school was opened in Sofia. Some 40,000 of the 50,000 Jewish population of Bulgaria subsequently emigrated to Israel, but ORT maintained its activities for the remaining members of the community until the authorities forced ORT out of the country in 1949. The school was transplanted, with its students and teachers to Jaffa, Israel where it became one of the first training units in Israel, a model from which a number of ORT schools in Israel were developed over the years. In addition to enhancing the current facilities at the school, like many similar ORT projects, the new Centre will concentrate on providing education- related opportunities for the wider community, said Robert Singer. We are very excited about the prospect of expanding our offerings to the community by opening a new Technology Centre in Bulgaria, he commented. Dr Aron Sygalowski, who led World ORT from 1941-56, seated centre, with the ORT Bulgaria committee during his visit to Sofia in June 1948 Students at the Jewish elementary school in Sofia learn about the festival of Passover – April 2003