ORT strengthens links with Jewish Community of Milan


Milans Jewish school is looking forward to a whole new world of opportunities following the signing of a cooperation agreement with World ORT which strengthens its affiliation to the ORT network. Roberto Jarach, signing the agreement as the President of ORT Italy. Following a 17-year lull in the relationship between World ORT and the Jewish Community School, the two aim to facilitate and expand their academic, technical and administrative cooperation to allow the implementation of best educational practices at the school for the benefit of students and staff. The school has benefited from training and educational opportunities provided by World ORT over the years but this agreement marks a significant step towards restoring the closeness of previous decades. The first benefit will be the creation of a cutting edge ICT laboratory at the school jointly funded by World ORT and the Milan Jewish community, which will replace the schools outmoded and limited IT laboratory, and the training of teachers in computer-assisted methods of education. School Principal Ester Kopciowski is excited by the prospect of returning to the close ties with World ORT that existed when she started at the school in the 1980s. I am very happy; its something I have worked for for two years, Ms Kopciowski said. This agreement means the beginning of a very new way of teaching for us. And it is an interesting way to have the possibility of interacting with the world of ORT and to have a wider perspective. Ms Kopciowski said the facilities in the new laboratory including an Internet-connected Interactive Whiteboard and videoconferencing equipment would enable her schools 530 students to interact with Jewish schools around the world. This is a great opportunity for a little school like ours, she said, adding that the training which staff will undergo to use the equipment to its fullest potential should satisfy the long standing desire of her teachers to expand their technological skills. Thanks in no small part to the input of Danny Maknouz, who teaches maths and informatics at the school, the new laboratory has been designed to cater for the actual and potential local needs. Ms Maknouz is due to participate in the next Wingate Seminar. The classroom, which will sit 24 students and their teacher, will be a resource for the teachers of all subjects, not just informatics; and potentially it could be used for communal activities like the videoconference staged yesterday (Tuesday) at the ORT Renzo Levi High School in Rome with Israels Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein. This is a new wave in the schools life and its only the beginning, we want to more, said World ORTs Chief Programme Officer, Vladimir Dribinskiy. The school will be fully involved in our activities and will start to interact with our other schools. The President of ORT Italy, Roberto Jarach, was instrumental in making the agreement a reality. As he is also Vice Chairman of the Milan Jewish Community with responsibility for the school, Mr Jarach acted as a bridge between the parties. The Milan community is looking for the expertise and advice which World ORT can provide in the running of new technology in education, Mr Jarach said. The agreement is a very important sign of the new activity and connections that can be made between World ORT, the school and the Jewish Community of Milan; it reinforces the will of the school and the community to take part in these activities and to reap the benefits that any school could enjoy from ORTs expertise. He said increasing the connectedness of the community was an existential issue. The Jewish communities in Italy are threatened by their smallness even in Rome and barely have the numbers to run activities such as schools. So it is very important to keep the schools alive as a link to the future. And being part of the ORT network helps our schools with new ways of teaching. ORTs presence in Milan dates back to 1946 when it opened training workshops for Holocaust Survivors in the citys Displaced Persons camp. Courses for mechanics, technical draftsmen, milliners and cutters were opened in the 1950s as well as day schools for dental technicians and television production. In the 1960s, vocational courses for Italian and foreign students expanded into business administration, languages and a three-year technical drawing programme. In the 1970s, ORT worked closely with the community to provide technical education that would help students in the Jewish school system to compete in the job market. By the 1980s, the ORT business and language school had become a mainstay of the community but enrolment waned during the decade and it was replaced by a consolidated upper school created in partnership with the Jewish community.