Ukraine President Yushchenko backs Jewish education


2 June 2005 Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko has discussed the importance of education for minorities and tolerance programmes in a meeting attended by World ORTs Deputy President Jean de Gunzburg and Director General Robert Singer. Dr de Gunzburg and Mr Singer met President Yushchenko in Kiev together with nearly 40 top professional and lay leaders of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) and the Jewish Federations of North America, who had travelled through the former Soviet Union visiting Jewish communities and assessing the current and future well being of Jews there. President Yushchenko referred to the importance of education of minorities in Ukraine, the need to open more schools for Jews and other minorities, the importance of tolerance programmes and the restitution of Jewish property, Mr Singer said. All these matters are of the highest importance to ORT and its future development in Ukraine. The UJC delegation, which centred its activities in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and in St Petersburg, Russia, visited programs operated by UJC’s overseas partner agencies active in the former Soviet Union The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and World ORT. The American delegation visited the ORT Technology Lyceum in Kiev, which caters to 256 teenagers. Established as part of ORTs Regeneration 2000, through the support of Shirley and Milton Gralla, the Lyceum is one of the centres due to benefit from the Womens American ORT-led Regeneration 2004 project. The Lyceum is part of the Heftsiba network of formal Jewish education institutions in the former Soviet Union that fuses modern technology with Jewish identity and heritage by integrating science and technological curricula with Jewish and Israel-oriented programmes. Heftsiba is a partnership between ORT, the Israeli Education Ministry, JAFI and local government authorities. UJC Chairman Robert Goldberg said: Our visit to the ORT Technology Lyceum gave us the opportunity to meet some of the brightest and most dynamic young people in Kiev. These individuals are learning the skills to ensure their own futures, and the knowledge to strengthen Jewish community. It is a remarkable combination and one that addresses a critical need in the former Soviet Union. Mr Singer said the American delegations tour had provided an excellent opportunity to further enhance the warm relationship between ORT, the UJC and the Federations. Both Dr Gunzburg and myself felt that ORTs participation on this mission was extremely important in developing long term relationships with the leaders of the Federation system in the USA and the Ukrainian Jewish community, he said. Mr Goldberg added: UJC and the Jewish federations throughout North America always have and always will be dedicated to supporting the individual and collective well-being and needs of Jews in the former Soviet Union. Our visits and dialogues here are critical to understanding what those are. Founded in St Petersburg in 1880, World ORT is the largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation in the world with 270,000 students both Jewish and non-Jewish in 58 countries. ORT returned to the former Soviet Union in 1993 after an exile of more than 50 years and now has 58 projects in 33 locations serving more than 25,000 people.