Solidarity Mission to Israel


ORT layleaders and professionals participated in an intensive Solidarity Mission to Israel from 31 August until 4 September. Displaying support for Israel during these difficult times, ORT layleaders and professional staff traveled to Israel, with a message that the ORT family will not be neglected at a time when it needs not just financial support, but also moral and emotional support. Mission Chair and First Vice President of Women’s American ORT Judy Menikoff has traveled to Israel many times as a participant and leader of Women’s American ORT’s missions, as a member of the Board of Directors of World ORT, and most recently this past April, as part of a Women’s American ORT’s Solidarity Delegation. The situation demands that we demonstrate our solidarity with the members of the ORT Israel family, Menikoff said. ‘Israel is central to Jewish life. Women’s American ORT’s solidarity with Israel, and strong desire for its well-being, remain unshakable. The ORT Israel programme is vital to Israel’s strength and prosperity.’ Chairman of ORT Belgium Eric Osterweil said that it was important for him to take part in the mission because he said he was aware of the Israelis great disappointment in the Diaspora Jews failure to come to their aid. I am a part of this mission because it constitutes a much-needed expression of support for Israel, Osterweil said. Many American Jewish groups have cancelled organized visits or attendance at summer camps for their young people. Visiting Israel at the earliest opportunity is necessary and to go as part of a group such as ORT has more impact than just going alone.’ Uppermost in the minds of Israelis is the question of security. ORT was in the headlines in May when a car bomb was detonated outside the ORT Yad Levovich School in Netanya. It was designed to harm as many people as possible but, thankfully, went off at a time when few people were in the vicinity. There were no serious injuries. However, two days later two of the pupils at the school, 14 year-old Maria Taglichev and 15 year- old Raisa Nemirovsky were among 21 children killed during the discotheque suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Less than two weeks after that, another pupil of the school was shot as he was travelling home. Director General of World ORT Robert Singer commented that terror can strike anywhere, and that all possible precautions have to be taken to protect ORT staff and students. The children at the ORT schools in Israel are part of your family – of our family, Singer told mission participants. They need to know that they can turn to us for support and assistance when things get tough. When they ask for extra security or for other forms of support, we must be ready to help them. ORT Israel is the largest of the World ORT organizations and its network comprises some 140 different educational institutions throughout the country. Its students represent the full spectrum and diversity of Israeli society today. One in four people in Israel who work in the high-tech field are ORT graduates. ORT, and ORT Israel in particular, is people as well as programs. ORT Israel’s normality in this period of crisis offers both stability and hope for its students, their families, the communities in which they operate, and the country itself, Menikoff said. This mission has given us an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment, personally, organizationally and morally in support for the ORT Israel network.