Sir Maurice Hatter – 1929-2020


It is with great sadness that ORT announces the passing this week of Sir Maurice Hatter.

Sir Maurice served terms as President of both World ORT and ORT UK.

His long-standing commitment – alongside his wife Lady Irene Hatter – shown to ORT’s mission stretched over decades, benefitting hundreds of thousands of young people in the process.

Sir Maurice, who was 90, was an electronics tycoon who built his business from scratch from the 1950s, before donating millions to good causes.

Dr Conrad Giles, World ORT President, said: “The world – and most especially the World ORT universe – mourns the loss of one of its greatest philanthropists and leaders with the passing of Sir Maurice Hatter.

“His leadership and financial commitment to World ORT has set a high bar for all who will follow him.

“The legacy of his efforts is the enrichment of hundreds of thousands of youngsters who, without his dedication, would have been unable to achieve successful and productive lives. His impact will transcend generations and his presence, though missed, will be long remembered.”

Acting Director General and CEO Dan Green, said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt of Sir Maurice’s passing.

“Sir Maurice was the patriarch of the ORT family. The years of care and love that he and Lady Irene devoted to both ORT UK and World ORT, investing time, funds and wisdom, have helped us to grow and to benefit hundreds of thousands of students and beneficiaries.

“We therefore feel that we have lost a member of our family, and mourn, along with Sir Maurice’s family.

“On behalf of the entire ORT network we send our love and sympathy to his family, and hope that they can find comfort in the knowledge that Sir Maurice leaves behind a great legacy. As long as people around the world continue to succeed thanks to his generosity, his memory will continue to live long.”

Lord Blunkett, the former British Education Secretary, who Sir Maurice encouraged to work with ORT UK, paid tribute, saying: “Maurice encapsulated the best of a tough entrepreneur, a committed philanthropist and a thoroughly decent man. It was my privilege to know him and to count Irene as my friend.

“The world will be a worse place without him, but the generosity of spirit will continue to be felt by so many people here and across the world for years to come.”

Sir Maurice and Lady Irene at an ORT event in 2002

Simon Alberga, ORT UK Chairman, said: “There are few people in the recent history of ORT who have been so central to the mission and success of the organization as Maurice Hatter.

“Maurice and his family have been staunch and loyal friends and supporters of ORT for many decades, and we are so proud and fortunate that ORT was one of Maurice’s great loves. We will miss his wisdom, sense of humour and love of life. Our heartfelt condolences to Irene, Richard, Andy, Janice, Caroline and all the family.”

Mark Mishon, ORT UK trustee, added: “Maurice was a giant of ORT and a mensch. A generous visionary who loved all that ORT did and was always positive and prepared to lead from the front, he ensured our students had the best opportunities that ORT could offer to them.

“He was a great friend who had a life full of years and years full of life. We will all miss his enthusiasm, his motivation and his passion.”

ORT’s ‘moral compass’

ORT’s 2019 Board of Trustees gathering included a gala dinner in honor of the Hatters’ contribution to the network. A tribute video compiled for the dinner featured contributions from Tony Blair, former British Prime Minister; and former ORT leaders. Sir Maurice was described as the organization’s ‘moral compass’.

Lady Irene told the dinner that the initiatives the couple were most proud of were the schools they had supported in the former Soviet Union, including in Samara, Russia; Kiev, Ukraine; Minsk, Belarus; and Warsaw, Poland. The ORT campus in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was another highlight.

Watch: the 2019 film in honor of the Hatters:

The ORT “Mishpahteinu” school in Kazan, Russia, said in a statement: “It is with deep regret that we received the sad news of the death of Sir Maurice Hatter. He was a remarkable person who devoted most of his life to Jewish education, upbringing and many other aspects of Jewish life.

“Sir Maurice played a decisive role in the creation of the ORT Technology Center at the Kazan school in 2000. Since then it has been regarded as one of the best schools in the city. It has a great influence on the life of the Jewish community, and on all for whom the future of Jewish children and their families is important.

“This is a huge loss for everyone who knew him personally, who worked with him and for those to whom he provided assistance and support.”

Writing in tribute to Sir Maurice, Sergey Gorinskiy of ORT Russia explained the lengths the former president had gone to for the organization: “Sir Maurice visited Russia several times, attended ORT schools, which he helped a lot, not only financing breakthrough projects in school technology education, but also supporting training seminars for ORT teachers from different countries.

“The annual Hatter Seminars have become an extremely important event for ORT teachers and experts, allowing us not only to keep informed of the latest educational trends, but also to establish personal contacts with colleagues.

“I will never forget our meetings with Maurice Hatter. Just imagine a super busy businessman, the owner of a high-tech business, who spends all day with great interest at a seminar with schoolteachers. It was clear from the eyes of this grey-haired man that he remained in the soul of the young man, not only understanding, but also loving everything connected with new technologies.

“Therefore, when he met with schoolchildren, teachers, engineers and scientists, people did not feel any barrier separating them from Sir Maurice – a charming, cheerful and smart man.”