Paris dinner breaks new ground for World ORT


3 June 2005 World ORT has held its first ever fundraising event in France a private dinner hosted by World ORT Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg and his wife Terry at their Paris home. The occasion attracted nearly 50 people from the highest echelons of French society, business and the professions and raised much needed funds for World ORTs Students in Need project. World ORTs Deputy Director General, Dr Gideon Meyer, who delivered the after-dinner address, said the evening had been a great success. The contribution to the well being of many ORT Israel students made by Dr and Mrs de Gunzburg in hosting the event cannot be overestimated not to mention that made by their guests who gave so generously, Dr Meyer said. However, the fact that this official World ORT fundraising event took place at all is testament to the kindness and understanding of the ORT France board and in particular of its President, Marcel Benichou. World ORTs Representative in France, the former ORT France Director Guy Seniak, was in charge of the administrative side of the function. At the dinner, Dr Meyer described the challenging economic situation in Israel and the consequent plight of families, approximately half of whom have serious problems meeting basic household and personal needs. A recent study showed that some 30 per cent of Israeli children live below the poverty line. In addition, the education sector in Israel has been hit by budget cuts as the government grapples with the extra security and defence costs incurred as a result of the intifada. His overview of the situation was backed by the Israeli Ambassador to France, Nissim Zvili, who was among the guests. If you look at a map of ORT Israels operations you will see that most of its schools are located in the poorer development towns and other areas away from the more prosperous central conurbation around Tel Aviv, Dr Meyer said. ORT Israels research shows that more than 4,200 of its students are in need of urgent financial support. That is why World ORT has its Students in Need programme, which channels extra money to those students who need help in terms of food, clothing, equipment and books, vital extra-curricular activities and transport to and from school. In addition, we continue to provide trauma counselling for children who are on the sometimes long road to overcoming their experiences of terrorism. Dr de Gunzburg, a research scientist and great-great nephew of ORTs co-founder Baron Horace de Gunzburg, said that encouraging people in France to donate to ORT out of their private funds was a challenge because the taxation system allows them to contribute via their companies. Already, ORT France as a recognised domestic provider of professional training benefits from corporate donations that are channelled through the tax system, Dr de Gunzburg said. As many Jewish businesspeople donate that way it can be difficult to persuade them to give again privately. However, Dr de Gunzburg said that the evening had been a great success and that many of those present had promised to share what they had learned about ORT and the need to help its operations around the world to their own friends and relatives. I hope that this is the first of a series of World ORT fundraising activities in France, he said.