Women’s American ORT mission to Israel


24 March 2006 Exploration of the multicultural mix of ORTs Israeli students provided one of the highlights of this months stunning nine-day mission to Israel by Womens American ORT, now part of ORT America, Inc. The WAO missions 50 participants congregated in the northern city of Haifa after travelling from their homes in California, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and New York. From there they toured across north and central Israel, interspersing their time viewing ORT projects with sightseeing, shopping and cultural and social outings. They met teachers, students and parents at ORT Kiryat Motzkin High School, spoke to brave young cancer patients and the ORT students who mentor them as part of the Sunflowers project, dedicated a plaque at ORT Harmatz (Givat Ram), got up close and personal with fighter aircraft at ORTs Aviation High School at the Tel Nof Air Base, and conducted physics experiments at the new ORT Air and Space Technology High School in Maale Adumim. From day one until we boarded our planes to come home, this was an incredible experience, WAO President Judy Menikoff wrote on the missions internet blog (http://waort.livejournal.com/). Strangers became acquaintances, acquaintances became friends, and we became, with our friends in ORT Israel, part of a global community. The WAO mission at ORT Kiryat Motzkin.. The morning spent at the ORT Ronson High School, which serves the Druze community at Dalyiat-El-Carmel, was seen as one of the highlights of the mission. Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Bedouin students from other ORT schools joined their Druze peers to discuss co-existence and living in a multicultural society with the WAO visitors. The issue was also discussed by a panel including prominent Druze poet Dr Naim Araide, Muhammed Sawaed, Principal of the Bedouin ORT Wadi Salame school, Avraham Adage and Dr Michael Schusterman, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants respectively, Ghadir Shafie, an English teacher at the Arab ORT Hilmi Shafie School in Acco, ORT Beit Shean Principal Avi Schwartz, Orthodox teacher Inbal Amar-Malka and student Reform rabbi Nir Brekin. Mrs Menikoff remembered one of the students saying, I am a Druze and, knowing I would always be in a minority, if I had to choose in which country to be a minority, I would choose Israel. A highlight for Mrs Menikoffs daughter, Deborah, was the impromptu tour of the school she was taken on by an enthusiastic group of students. None of them had been prepped, coached or even told what we were doing there and it was still crystal clear now much pride they took in the school and in being a part of it. The WAO mission at ORT Kiryat Motzkin.. At Dana Childrens Hospital, part of Tel Avivs Sourasky Medical Centre, mission members spoke to 20 ORT students who participate in the Sunflowers project, providing friendship and tutoring to young cancer patients. The students spend three hours, twice a week, helping the children at Dana Hospital with their homework, instructing them in the use of computers and the internet, playing with them and helping them to celebrate festivities. Seeing Sunflowers in action allows supporters to appreciate fully just how beneficial the project is both for those who give and for those who receive. Rhoda Gould, a WAO Board member from Alpharetta, Georgia, said: It was a very moving moment when one of the teenagers who takes time to be with children with cancer said I know I have no problems. There were many more special ORT moments; Im thrilled to have experienced them. Mrs Menikoff concluded: ORT is doing more than educating its students its creating communities. In the words of Marga Segal, the Principal at ORT Kiryat Motzkin, The students will be wonderful scientists, doctors, lawyers, but they must become wonderful leaders, people who will change their communities for the better. World ORTs Head of International Liaison, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, said she was delighted that the mission participants had found the programme coordinated by World ORT both enjoyable and illuminating. We prepared opportunities for the women to see, experience and understand how the money they work so hard to raise is used and the benefits their dedication brings to our students, Ms Gomes said. Co-existence, Sunflowers, Students in Need and community service are all high on WAOs list of fundraising priorities so we ensured that these provided the focus of the mission.