ORT’s History in Vilnius Recognized at National Library


A special exhibition dedicated to the history of an ORT school in Vilnius has opened at Lithuania’s National Library.

“A Window to the Future” coincides with the 700th anniversary of the Lithuanian capital and aims to provide a closer look at life at the ORT Technicum school during the inter-war period of the 20th century.

Documents from the National Library’s Judaica Collection include research papers and photographs of the school’s students, information about their studies and Yiddish textbooks written by teachers.

The ORT school opened in 1921 and was a key center of Jewish life in the city between the wars. Its activities and achievements were presented at a world exhibition in Paris in 1937.

Mechanical engineering and professional practical skills needed for industry were among the leading subjects at the Technicum at the time. ORT graduates easily found jobs in industrial enterprises in the local region, in Poland and in other countries.

The exhibition is accompanied by a video projection of the windows of the former school building, which is now home to the vocational training department of the Vilnius College of Technology and Design. The current ORT Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Jewish School moved into large, refurbished premises in 2015.

Jennifer Brunton, World ORT Archivist and Records Manager, attended the opening of the exhibition on April 4.

She read a message from Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, stating: “ORT’s presence in Lithuania is long-standing, with early activities beginning in 1908. The rich history ORT shares with Vilnius forms an integral part of ORT’s own journey to the present day.

“This exhibition will undoubtedly enable us to better understand ORT’s activities here in Vilnius and we hope current ORT students visiting the exhibition will enjoy learning more about the shared history.

“We would like to thank the National Library of Lithuania for not only uncovering these incredible records within their collections but for also enabling them to be shared and made available to the public, bringing ORT’s history with Vilnius into the present.”

The exhibition is open until the end of May. It is hoped it will be available to be viewed virtually in due course.

Find out more about the history of ORT in Lithuania: https://ortinlithuania.ort.org/