21 April 2005 For the first time ever, the leaders of the French Jewish umbrella organisation CRIF have visited an ORT school. The first phase of World ORTs $18 million campaign to redevelop Yad Lvovich, one of the first and largest ORT high schools in Israel was launched this week. The entire five-year campaign is not due to start until July, following approval by World ORTs Executive Committee at the end of May and the organisations National Directors Forum in Vilnius in June. However, World ORT Director General Robert Singer said the need to refurbish one of the schools two dormitories, rebuild the security fence around the Netanya campus and demolish a hazardous building was so urgent that it was decided to start work as soon as possible. Yad Lvovich is almost as old as the State of Israel itself. It is an inclusive school, a third of whose 1,500 students are new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Argentina, Mr Singer said. Its also home to almost 300 students: some are new immigrants who have come to Israel without their parents; others come from disadvantaged backgrounds and need the warm environment that Yad Lvovich provides. By starting now to improve their living standards and security we can take advantage of the Pesach and summer holidays to minimise disruption to school life. Most of the $575,000 required for this first phase of the schools redevelopment is being funded by three members of World ORTs elite major donors group, The 1880 Society: Arthur Silber, President of ORT Canada, which is leading the international fundraising effort, and Britains Edgar and Marguerite Quitak and Wolfson Family Charitable Trust. ORT Israel is contributing $150,000. Mr Silber, who visited Yad Lvovich for the first time in January, said he was delighted that the first phase of the redevelopment project was about to proceed. This is the fruition of a lot of work on budgets and planning, he said. I have four kids so children are very close to my heart. Im delighted to see that our preparatory work will already start to materially benefit the children at Yad Lvovich and the community of Netanya. The fundraising campaign for the school, which was named after Dr David Lvovich, the World ORT Director General between 1941 and 1950, comprises $15 million for refurbishment and rebuilding and $3 million to cover maintenance over the next 15 years. Mr Singer said he felt confident that the aspirations of ORTs lay leadership to elevate Yad Lvovich, whose educational standards already command respect, to be a centre of scientific excellence would be realised thanks to the close co-operation with ORT Israel, the Netanya municipal authority and Israels Ministry of Education. In March, World ORT appointed Charlie Diamond formerly a President of the Toronto Federation and executive of the Friend of the Hebrew University, Canada as its Director of the Yad Lvovich Campaign.