ORT Toronto honours author


26 September 2008 ORT Toronto honours author Anna Porter, author of the acclaimed book Kasztner’s Train: The True Story of an Unkown Hero of the Holocaust, has been honoured at this year’s ORT Toronto Golden Circle Luncheon. Ms Porter is renowned for her telling of how Rezso Kasztner walked through the moral minefield of negotiating with top Nazis during the war in order to save Jewish lives. Mr Kasztner managed to save 1,684 Hungarian Jews but at the cost of his reputation. After the war he was branded a collaborator and murdered by a fellow Jew in Israel in 1957. Introduced at what was the 34th annual Golden Circle luncheon by friend and writer for the National Post Linda Frum, Ms Porter spoke about her award-winning book. ORT Toronto Board member Mary Richmond, Linda Meshwork, Honouree Anna Porter, Board member Florence Weinstock, Committee member Helen Marr And just as Ms Porter has brought recognition to Mr Kasztner’s efforts to save lives so, too, did ORT Toronto and World ORT leaders recognise the vital contribution made to Jewish continuity and socio-economic advancement by the unsung heroes who support ORT programmes year in and year out. In her welcome, ORT Toronto President Sandra Chapnik told the 200 such heroes attending the luncheon: ‘By your presence here you are making a meaningful difference.’ ‘It has been said that ‘great people don’t just happen, they come from an environment where they’ve been challenged and nurtured’,’ she added. ‘ORT schools provide that kind of environment. They engage students from many cultures in high quality, state-of-the-art ‘values-based’ learning, enabling them to lead productive, successful lives.’ World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg described the history and activities of the organization and added his voice to those thanking the people who make its work possible saying: ‘In these difficult times, both economically and politically, the support of loyal donors is of greater importance than ever before and your commitment to ORT and the thousands of students it helps is invaluable we are always aware that World ORT’s programmes could not maintained without your continued help.’ Appreciation for the support provided by those attending the luncheon was also voiced by ORT Golden Circle co-chairs Ruth Druxerman and Shelley Lederman-Klein. ‘Today’s answer for some of the most urgent needs of society and its people lies in education,’ Mrs Druxerman told guests at central Toronto’s exclusive Granite Club. ‘An ORT programme is a beacon of hope – an indispensible instrument for equal opportunity. It is a programme relevant to our times, inspiring young people everywhere and ensuring that no student is denied ORT’s advanced education system. Students transcend social and economic poverty to richness of mind and a dignified, rewarding life. Somewhere on this globe, at any hour of the day, an ORT student is learning – because of you, because you care.’ World ORT’s contribution to Israel education system was praised by Amir Gissin, Consul General of Israel. And in a message to the luncheon, World ORT Director General Robert Singer noted that ORT’s 128-year-old vision of enabling people to help themselves continued to be realized thanks to the support of benefactors around the world – including the organisation’s own lay leaders. ‘We are grateful for the ongoing commitment of ORT Toronto and we wish its new Board the best of luck,’ Mr Singer wrote. ‘We have the utmost confidence that their revitalization they will meet all their challenges with energy and creativity, allowing the support they provide to continue for many years to come.’ The luncheon raised more than $100,000, part of which will fund scholarships for post-secondary students who are leaving the foster care system in Toronto and part of which will support World ORT’s Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme in Israel.