Russian Jewish Congress and World ORT discuss future cooperation


24 January 2005 The new President of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), Vladimir Sloutsker, has held top level talks with World ORT in London. Last weeks visit to ORT House, London was the first for Mr Sloutsker since being installed as RJC leader in November. A member of the Federation Council, Russias upper house of Parliament, Mr Sloutsker said he hoped the relationship between the RJC and World ORT would not only improve educational and training facilities for Russias estimated two million Jews but also boost the Jewish communitys image among Russians in general. The Presidents and members of the Russian Jewish Congress meet at ORT House ORT has been taking very practical steps that have led to concrete results, Mr Sloutsker said. It has created a network of activities which can be branded as the positive Jewish record in the Russian educational sector. World ORT, the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation, coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan: 58 projects in 33 locations serving more than 25,000 people. Since its founding in 1996, the RJC has raised tens of millions of dollars domestically for Jewish projects. Mr Sloutsker said he wanted to use the RJCs resources to ensure that the work of ORT and other Jewish organisations in Russia is supported and properly recognised by general society. The achievements of ORT and other Jewish organisations in Russia are not reflected by the mass media and in the modern world nothing happens unless it happens on television. You can build 1,000 schools and still the antisemitic atmosphere will get worse. The RJC is committed to fighting defamation and antisemitism and we work with Muslims and Christians to overcome conflicts and misunderstandings. This is, therefore, the best moment to upgrade the Jewish communitys image in Russia and it is with that task in mind that I am here at ORT House, he said on Friday. Accompanied by his education adviser Professor Alexander Mordukhovich, a former board member of ORT Russia, Mr Sloutsker had meetings with World ORT President Sir Maurice Hatter, Director General Robert Singer and other senior World ORT professional staff. Vladimir Dribinskiy, head of World ORTs CIS, Baltic States and Eastern Europe Unit, said the meetings had resulted in the continuation of the RJCs material support for ORTs six schools in Russia amounting to $500,000 over five years. Mr Dribinskiy said it had also been agreed that the RJC and ORT Russia would jointly prepare a plan for the enlargement of ORTs network in Russia and examine the possibility of creating an on-line museum of Russian-Jewish history and culture the latter inspired by World ORTs successful development of on-line multi-media projects such as Navigating the Bible. The importance of Jewish involvement in projects benefiting the general community was also discussed. World ORTs International Cooperation wing has in conjunction with the Hewlett-Packard Corporation already set up a Digital Community Centre (DCC) in Tula to develop that communitys technology skills. Last weeks talks with Mr Sloutsker examined the possibility of a joint RJC-World ORT project in support of the school in Beslan where Islamist terrorists killed more than 300 people last year. World ORT works with different partners in Russia and has in the past undertaken many projects with the RJC, said Mr Singer. Our meetings with Mr Sloutsker were very constructive and focused. We hope that positive things will come out of them for Russian Jewry. Founded in St. Petersburg in 1880, ORT has been active in more than 100 countries and has directly benefited more than three million people. ORT currently has some 270,000 Jewish and non-Jewish students around the world.