World ORT joins development of interactive CD-ROM for British schools


16 May 2008 World ORT joins development of interactive CD-ROM for British schools World ORT has partnered with The Pears Foundation and the Board of Deputies of British Jews to develop a groundbreaking resource for teaching Judaism in non-Jewish schools. Britains Minister of State for Schools and Learners attended the launch of the Jewish Way of Life CD-ROM this week the first such teaching aid to be developed and distributed free-of-charge by a faith group to all schools across the United Kingdom. In addition to contributing to the development of the CD-ROM, World ORT created a companion website ( that provides teachers with supplementary information, including background to help deal with tough questions from their classes. Teachers can also order their free copy of the CD-ROM, whose content meets the requirements of Religious Education syllabuses, through the website. World ORTs Head of Jewish Education, Judah Harstein (on the right of the picture with, from left, Minister Jim Knight, Professor Lord Winston, Trevor Pears, Helen Williams, and Henry Grunwald QC) said it was a natural project for World ORT. It deals with tolerance, its educational, and it harnesses technology in an innovative and engaging way this is what we do with all our projects, Mr Harstein said. It was, he added, an attempt to prevent, rather than cure, bigotry. If all faith groups were to adopt a similar model at the early stage of the education process this would help people to understand that people of different faiths are human beings worthy of respect and should not be demonised, feared or vilified. Early intervention in the learning process will ensure that young peoples world views are based on knowledge rather than preconceptions and stereotypes. The CD-ROM and website are based on an exhibition that Britains peak Jewish communal representative organisation, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, has been taking around the country since the 1980s. Through a series of short videos and interactive scenarios, students learn about Jewish life, beliefs, history, religious practice, and culture in the UK and around the world. An important feature is the contribution made by two children, Daniel Levin and Sophia Davis, who are featured in the activities. At the launch in London, Helen Williams, Director of Curriculum for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: This resource will make an excellent contribution to the classroom as teaching children about other faiths is the first way of tackling prejudice, This resource will particularly engage pupils because of its use of ICT. Trevor Pears, Executive Chair of The Pears Foundation, said he was delighted to be involved in the project. This fills a clear gap in resources available for the teaching of contemporary Jewish life in the UK. We hope it will build on the growing body of work being done to promote a better understanding of the many and diverse communities and cultures of modern Britain. The President of the Board of Deputies, Henry Grunwald QC, added: The affirmative way that this CD-ROM and Jewish Way of Life portrays Jews, Jewish values and Jewish thinking to the outside world is of immense significance. Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies, Jon Benjamin, was Chief Executive of British ORT when the idea for a CD-ROM was first suggested. It is very exciting to see the project reach fruition, Mr Benjamin said, adding that the Board was grateful to The Pears Foundation and World ORT for their hard work. The CD-ROM also features an introduction by Professor Lord Winston who is well known for his pioneering work in reproductive medicine and, in recent years, for his acclaimed programmes for BBC and ABC television. At the launch, Professor Winston, whose late mother spearheaded the original Jewish Way of Life travelling exhibition, said: This resource will reach every classroom and ensure that Jewish values are understood. This is an opportunity for the Jewish community to define itself positively to the outside world, and this is certainly necessary.