World ORT Executive Committee meets in Florida


08 February 2008 World ORT Executive Committee meets in Florida World ORTs two Kadima Mada mega-projects in Israel the Science City at Kiryat Yam and a new school at Shaar HaNegev were among the issues discussed by top lay leaders at the Executive Committee meeting in Florida. The Head of World ORTs International Liaison Department, Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, presented details of the Science City project, which was officially launched at Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, in November. The project which has been made possible by the generosity of ORT supporters as well as the partnership between World ORT, the Ministry of Education and the municipality of Kiryat Yam comprises four main components. The first component, made possible by ORT America supporter Dan Kahn, is the conversion of the Rodman Schools existing, under-resourced science block into a well equipped centre to serve thousands of people throughout the city of 45,000 people, about half of whom are immigrants, as well as Rodmans own students and residents of nearby towns. Other components include the creation of an Ethiopian Jewish education, cultural and science centre, an open science park, museum, and sports and athletics centre. The other mega-project is the construction of a new campus for Shaar HaNegev High School with buildings that are better able to withstand the constant rocket attacks from nearby Gaza and in a safer location. The multi-million-dollar project is at a very early stage of development but already has attracted support from the Ministry of Education, the local municipality, Jewish communities in the USA, such as the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, and the Rashi Foundation. The goal is to create a safer environment to physically protect the students, said World ORT Director General Robert Singer. Also, it will be an opportunity to ensure that the students and staff will have continued access to the latest technology, which we are introducing to the current campus under Phase 5 of Kadima Mada. The grim reality of life at Shaar HaNegev was brought home to Executive Committee members by teacher Oshrat Abergel and 8th grade student Aviv Frowein. In America as part of the ORT Lipson programme, they attended the Executive Committee meeting together with Shahaf Nahshon, a 9th grade student at Megiddo, another Kadima Mada school. Ms Abergel told the meeting how the Palestinian rocket attacks had traumatised many people at the school. There is no normal routine, they are afraid. I try not to show it to the students but I am also scared. It is impossible to describe how it feels to see the panic in the kids eyes when you have less than 20 seconds to find shelter, she said. But World ORT has truly been a gift for us. We have been able to use the new equipment from World ORT to develop learning skills, conduct research, expand horizons and help students improve their grades. We have the WOTEC (World ORT Teaching Empowerment Centre) which has improved my, and my colleagues, work immensely. Executive Committee Chair Mauricio Merikanskas thanked the Israelis, not only for attending the Florida meeting but also by participating in the ORT Lipson programme through which they spend a month in Atlanta studying in Jewish schools and living with local Jewish families. You should know that you are helping by sharing your experiences with us, Mr Merikanskas said. World ORT Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg said it had been a very productive Executive Committee meeting. It was the last full meeting before the World ORT General Assembly in Warsaw and there was a very positive attitude by all involved, Dr de Gunzburg said. We can look forward to a very good General Assembly.