15 July 2009 Raising money with altitude ORT America is used to taking people higher and higher through education. Now it is has gone to new heights to raise money with its first event at Aspen, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Hosted by ORT America President Doreen Hermelin at her home in Snowmass Village, one-and-a-half miles above sea level, a choice group of long-standing and potential ORT supporters gathered to hear Captain Yoram Laks, Naval Attache at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, share his thoughts on the major issues facing the Jewish State. Many of the guests were surprised to learn that improving education was listed as a critical factor for Israels well being by Captain Laks, who noted that the young people arriving at his base for national service were not as well qualified as they needed to be. Captain Laks stressed the need to strengthen science and technology education in Israel, as World ORT is doing with ORT Americas support. Many of the people in the room had never thought of the quality of education in Israel, said ORT America Vice President Linda Kirschbaum. People think of Israel as a high-tech country and so theres an assumption that kids today are learning at the pace necessary to keep it that way. In fact, Israel needs help to raise the level of education and this is a fundamental prerequisite to alleviating poverty and maintaining a strong defence as well. Ms Hermelin said it had been a wonderful meeting both socially and educationally. We have made an opening into a community which has a place for ORT, she said. I think ORT America and World ORT can work together on cultivating this; together we can definitely make things happen. This could turn into an annual event. World ORT North America Representative Harry Nadler, who coordinated the event, agreed that this had been a good introduction to the community. A lot of enthusiasm was developed, Mr Nadler said. We presented an overview of World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme in Israel, focusing on the introduction of smart classrooms in high schools and our educational support for hospitalised children. A number of guests identified strongly with certain aspects of World ORTs work in Israel. Some shared with me how difficult it had been for them at school to follow the teachers explanations while trying to take notes and they wished they had had an Interactive Whiteboard like the ones we are introducing into the Israeli education system, Mr Nadler said. Others remembered how they had medical conditions as children, such as asthma, which had seen them in and out of hospital. By missing school they had felt marginalised and they remarked that the sort of thing World ORT is doing for hospitalised kids in Israel would have been a great help to them. Ms Kirschbaum added: We had an excellent turnout of 54 people, among them some major philanthropists and influential individuals. It was great to be able to share information with them. There was also good representation of people in their 30s and 40s for whom being exposed to ORT in an intimate environment was ideal.