ORT140: Keeping the heartbeat of education alive


ORT, the global education network driven by Jewish values, is celebrating its 140th birthday with a series of exciting events and activities throughout 2020. 

A film looking at the organization’s past and present and celebratory events in dozens of schools worldwide are among the ORT140 highlights which will acknowledge the countless lives transformed by an ORT education. 

ORT’s network now reaches 300,000 people in more than 30 countries, and the anniversary will be acknowledged across the globe, including in North and South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union, Africa, Israel and Asia to mark ORT’s foundation in St Petersburg, Russia, in 1880.

Avi Ganon, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “For 140 years, ORT has been at the heart of education around the world. Our mission and values have never changed. ORT transforms lives through education and from teaching 19th century Russian Jews essential trades and professions we have evolved to provide 21st century skills to empower people and strengthen communities. 

“Today when we look at Waze, Google, Facebook and others, we see the continuation of the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit shown by Nikolai Bakst – the St Petersburg University professor who established ORT in 1880. He recognized the need of local Jewish communities, and he provided answers.”

Avi Ganon discusses the ORT140 plans

Mr Ganon was the first person to sit before the film crew’s cameras in January as part of a project which will also see students and teachers taking part around the world.

“What makes ORT special is our mission and the importance of taking care of the younger generation and being responsible for their future. The magic of the organization is that our mission has never changed – we are doing exactly the same things from day one up to today, just with different tools.

“ORT has been at the heart of education in the Jewish world for 140 years and we are going to celebrate by connecting hundreds of thousands of people.”

Other planned projects across the network include a book of quotes and stories from students, alumni, teachers and global figures covering ORT’s past, present and future – showcasing the impact the organization has had over 140 years.

A video campaign – Faces over 140 years – will also feature the stories of those whose lives have been changed by ORT’s education programs. 

Later in 2020, participants will be asked to contribute videos demonstrating recipes from ORT communities around the world, as well as submitting stories about ORT-related artefacts in their homes, offices and archives.