The Islamist terrorist attacks that hit Paris in January were never far from the minds of the 30 senior professionals from 18 countries who gathered in the French capital for the World ORT Robert and Eileen Sill National Directors’ Forum. The annual event is an integral part of the calendar for World ORT and National Organizations alike, giving key staff the chance to meet, network, learn about each other’s activities and share best practice.
“Although arranged before the horrific terrorist attacks which took place in Paris in January, the Forum gave participants an opportunity to show solidarity with their French counterparts and the Jewish community,”? said World ORT Chief Operating Officer Jon Benjamin.
Forum participants were given insights into challenges facing the French Jewish community by Dr Roger Cukierman, President of CRIF, the umbrella body for France’s Jewish communal organizations, and into ORT France’s excellent education provision which now extends into post-matriculation degree courses.
The Forum focused on the future, exploring initiatives characterising the World ORT network’s continuing evolution as a quality provider of practical and progressive education and training.
Discussions on international cooperation benefited from the contribution of the Israeli Ambassador to the Netherlands, Haim Divon, who drew on his experience as director of MASHAV, the Israeli Agency for International Development and Cooperation.
Other topics explored included the establishment of innovation centres where children will learn entrepreneurial skills, outreach to ORT alumni, and how to develop partnerships between ORT’s growing list of tertiary level institutions and between them and external colleges of higher education.
The group was formally welcomed to Paris by the President of ORT France, Lucien Kalfon, and meetings took place at the Centre Alliance Edmond J. Safra, which kindly made its facilities available to World ORT.
In addition, the national directors visited the ORT Daniel Mayer school at Montreuil, where they were treated to demonstrations of the work students do there on a variety of vocational based subjects including wind-power technology, ophthalmics, dental prosthetics and home and commercial security systems.
World ORT Director General and CEO Shmuel Sisso said: “Meeting in person at the Forum not only strengthens our personal and professional relationships it also provides a vital opportunity to address in greater depth our most pressing strategic and operational priorities. And this year it allowed us to pay tribute to the retiring directors of ORT Brazil and ORT France “ﾓ Hugo Malajovich and Marc Timsit “ﾓ whose professionalism and vision have taken their respective organisations to ever greater heights. As ever, we are indebted to Robert and Eileen Sill for their continued generosity once again, which means that this fantastic event can take place each year.”?