01 February 2008 Principals from ORT schools in FSU visit Israel A delegation of 43 school principals and other senior staff at World ORTs education and training network in the Former Soviet Union have spent this week in Israel to learn from the local education system and develop closer ties with colleagues at World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) schools. The ORT CIS and Baltic States Senior Staff Seminar was held in Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish State as it approaches its 60th anniversary but also to help the Israeli schools in more than 30 municipalities that are benefiting from Kadima Mada to be part of World ORTs international family. While in Israel, the delegation visited Shaar HaNegev High School, near Gaza, as well as the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, which also collaborate with World ORT on Kadima Mada projects. Dr Marina Moiseeva, Principal of the Moscow ORT Technology School, said: Most of the members of this delegation have not been to Israel before so this has been a wonderful opportunity for them, in particular, to build a strong relationship personally and professionally with the country. This is so important as we all try to incorporate an Israel component in our curricular and extra-curricular activities. Dr Moiseeva added: The feeling of belonging is very important for us. Were strongest as a community and we have to do all we can to develop and strengthen this feeling. Were all very inspired by this weeks events and want to develop new projects and exchange programmes with our Israeli colleagues and let more of our students see Israel themselves. The delegation also had meetings with top level Israeli officials Gery Koren, Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Euro-Asian Department, and Slomit Amihai, Director General of the Ministry of Education. They also met the Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), Zeev Bielski. World ORTs Representative in Russia, Belarus and Central Asia, Avi Ganon, said the meetings had been very productive. Slomit Amihai promised to do her best to continue her ministrys support for the Heftsibah programme through which we collaborate, together with JAFI and the former Soviet republics, to provide formal Jewish education in our schools, Mr Ganon said. She could not promise an increase in the budget but we will be working closely together for the foreseeable future. She spoke highly of the cooperation between World ORT and her ministry. The FSU staff members were able to thank Mr Bielski personally for JAFIs pledge to provide $1.25 million per year for the next three years for their schools a budget increase that has been made possible thanks to a $45 million allocation to JAFI by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. Theres a serious lack of places in Jewish schools for Jews in the Former Soviet Union, Mr Ganon added. These meetings have reinforced the commitment we, JAFI and the Ministry of Education have to continue our efforts to strengthen Jewish education in the region.