World ORT Hosts Network Leaders in Madrid


World ORT’s National Directors’ Forum (NDF) has met in person for the first time in four years, providing a chance for ORT’s professional leaders from around the world to collaborate on key issues and challenges.

Colleagues from countries including Britain, France, the United States, Israel, South Africa, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, Brazil and throughout Europe and Latin America took part in four days of discussion in Madrid, Spain.

Presentations and sessions focused on international fundraising, education initiatives, mental health issues and World ORT’s International Cooperation programs.

Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “More than anything the NDF was an important opportunity to connect or reconnect with our colleagues from around the network. Many of them have not met each other in person since 2019, before the pandemic, and others have only joined the network since then.

“We received important updates from so many of our operational and fundraising countries and had the chance to discuss ways to benefit from others’ experiences and to share resources.”

Leaders of schools affiliated to the ORT network spoke about the reality of being part of small Jewish communities worldwide and the challenges of sourcing excellent Jewish educators.

ORT France leaders provided information about a pilot scheme they are running to identify and support students in their schools with special educational needs. It is hoped that if the scheme is successful, other schools in the network will be able to adapt it for use in their countries.

ORT national organization leaders heard presentations from around the world

A group of national directors will come together to create a global alumni strategy – identifying and maintaining contact with ORT graduates worldwide, many of whom go on to be community or business leaders in their home countries or further afield.

The sessions also provided an opportunity for leaders from fundraising countries including Britain, the U.S. and Canada to discuss with school representatives the rationale behind fundraising campaigns and explain the need for support from operational countries to make them successful.

Leaders from many of the national organizations attending provided updates on the educational and economic situations in their countries, including Mila Finkelshtein, Chief Executive of ORT Ukraine, and David Benish, World ORT’s Representative in the former Soviet Union.

In relation to the situation in Ukraine, delegates heard how from September students from the ORT school in Zaporizhzhia will share a building with students from another school in the city. This will allow them to return to partial in-person learning. Government policies on shelters at schools had meant ORT “Aleph” Jewish Gymnasium had been unable to re-open for face-to-face classes during the past academic year. Online learning will continue.

The international group also spent time at the ORT Colegio Estrella Toledano in Madrid, meeting students and teachers and learning more about the school’s approach to delivering its educational programs.