Events in Toronto and London this week have raised a total of more than $250,000 gross for ORT projects in the Former Soviet Union and Israel.
ORT Toronto and British Friends of ORT have expressed delight at the success of their respective fundraisers.
Lindy Meshwork, ORT Toronto’s Executive Director, said the feedback for this year’s Golden Circle Luncheon, at the Four Seasons Hotel, had been “phenomenal”?.
“It was a great event, raising $200,000, and the 420 people who attended made it the biggest event we have ever had “ﾓ twice the size of last year’s,”? Ms Meshwork said. “Many of these people haven’t attended an ORT event before so we have introduced ORT’s work to a new audience.”? This year’s honouree was real estate guru and philanthropist Elise Kalles, who thanked long-time ORT Toronto member Helen Friedman for introducing her to the organisation some 40 years ago.
A Holocaust Survivor who came to Canada from Paris in 1951 with her mother and two brothers, Mrs Kalles inspired the audience with a passionate address extolling the virtues of family, community “ﾓ and ORT.
“Over 10,000 people walked for Israel last month and welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu to our city,”? she said. “And today we have again come out to show our support for ORT. I am so proud of our people. Look at what we do for each other, for our community, for Israel “ﾓ all this as the world condemns our Israel and the Jewish People. Ours is a sense of family that extends well beyond our children and flourishes in our community.”?
It was truly meaningful to be honoured by ORT, she said.
“I can’t help but come to this moment with reflection and with a sense of my heritage, of appreciation to my father, who somehow saved our lives and smuggled us out of the ghetto, for my mother and my dear brothers. We created the foundation for all of our families to thrive. It is at moments like this that I am filled with an intense sense of pride for all of our families. How blessed we all are to be part of this outstanding community.”?
Having opened her remarks referring to British ORT’s famous 1930 dinner at London’s Savoy Hotel, at which Albert Einstein was the keynote speaker, Ms Kalles closed with a quotation from George Bernard Shaw, who presented the great scientist at that event.
“ORT is a splendid torch inspiring and helping young people to learn from one generation to the next,”? the playwright said.
In addition to Ms Kalles, Harriet Morton, a past president of ORT Toronto and co-founder of the Golden Circle Luncheon 36 years ago, was honoured for her service to ORT and the Jewish community. The Grande Dame of ORT Toronto, Ruth Druxerman, presented the award.
Most of the money raised at the event, which was co-chaired by Carrie Katz and Sandra Ainsley, has been earmarked for World ORT’s project, implemented by its Kadima Mada programmatic arm in Israel, to install high-tech “ﾘsmart classes’ at more than 80 relatively under-resourced schools in the Jewish State. Toronto-based philanthropist Seymour Schulich was thanked at the luncheon for his $2.1 million donation, which would “provide innovative educational technology for thousands of students in Israeli schools, raise their standard of learning and give them a brighter future”?. ORT Toronto aims to raise $1.5 million to further expand the programme.
An example of the achievements of ORT schools around the world was given by ORT Toronto’s newly-elected president, Florence Weinstock, who told the luncheon of the ORT de Gunzburg School in St Petersburg, where she attended World ORT’s 130th anniversary celebrations.
“Microsoft chose the school, which we visited while in the city, to test its new products because ORT teachers provide innovative technological training to their students, who are seen by Gates as the leaders of tomorrow.”?
On the same day, nearly 6,000 kilometres away, British Friends of ORT held its annual summer luncheon. The sell-out crowd of 130 people packed into the beautiful residence of Lady Lipworth to hear guest speaker Santa Montefiore share the secrets of her inspiration for the series of sweeping romances which have made her name on both sides of the Atlantic.
Friends of ORT Co-Chair Roslyn Wagman said she was delighted to see many new faces among the crowd as well as the “dedicated familiar ones”?. She thanked Lady Hatter, Astrid Lyons for their invaluable contributions to the event’s success and Alisa Jabes “for her kind gift of the NUXE products to each of the ladies”? attending.
This year’s Summer Luncheon raised approximately £25,000 for ORT’s 17 schools in the Former Soviet Union.
British ORT Chairman Simon Alberga said: “The future of Judaism is at grave risk in this region, given the level of assimilation and out-marriage. Our network of schools and training centres acts as a vital link for the Jewish community in this region, providing not only excellent skills-based education but also a strong Jewish Studies curriculum”ﾦ ORT is not only helping individuals students out of poverty but also the Jewish People as a whole to ensure its growth and continuity.”?
World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer praised both ORT organisations for staging such successful events.
“It is a testament to the hard work, commitment and vision of the lay leaders and professionals at ORT Toronto and British ORT that they have been able to expand on the success of previous years despite our troubled times,”? Mr Singer said. “I congratulate them on their effectiveness in attracting more generous and talented people to ORT’s cause.”?