August 17, 2007 ORT students in Former Soviet Union win tour of Israel ORT students knowledge of Israel and Zionism shone in a competition run by the Jewish Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Education winning them a 10-day tour of the Jewish State. ORT schools in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Kishinev and Kiev took the top five places in the competition, which attracted entries from 45 Jewish schools across the Former Soviet Union. ORT Moscow School came first. This spectacular result meant that 40 ORT students spent 10 days this month touring Israel. For many of them it was their first trip to the country and they were able to visit some of the top sites, including Yad Vashem, Masada and Independence Hall, the building where David Ben Gurion declared Israeli independence. Avi Ganon, World ORTs Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia, said everyone was very proud of the students achievement. We believe it is very important to teach our children about the history of Israel and it is deeply gratifying to see that they are enthusiastic and accomplished students in this field, Mr Ganon said. ORT students from the Former Soviet Union in Israel. He added that last months decision by the Jewish Agency to provide World ORT with $1 million to support the Heftsiba programme in 15 ORT schools in the CIS and Baltic States would ensure that this level of excellence would be maintained. The connection built up between the children and the Israeli teachers provided by Heftsiba allows them to build a profound knowledge and understanding of Israel, Mr Ganon said. Had funding for Heftsiba been withdrawn then these competition results would have been almost impossible to replicate. Israels Ministry of Education and the Jewish Agency help the ORT network in the CIS and Baltic States to provide formal Jewish education in Jewish schools in the former Soviet republics; it is a partnership between local governments, World ORT, the Ministry of Education of Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel and local Jewish communities. At the end of July, the Jewish Agency quashed fears that it would drastically cut its support of the programme by announcing an increase in its funding. After an enforced absence, World ORT returned to Russia in 1991. It now coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 30,000 people. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.