18 February 2005 World ORTs most senior lay leaders met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the 125th anniversary meetings of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee in the Jewish State. President Sir Maurice Hatter, Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg, Board of Directors Chairman Robert Sill and Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas enjoyed a one-hour meeting with Mr Sharon together with World ORT Director General Robert Singer and ORT Israel National Director Zvi Peleg. It was an excellent meeting, Sir Maurice said. Mr Sharon knew a lot about ORT and spoke about the importance of technology to Israeli industry. Mr Singer added that the Israeli leader also congratulated ORT on its achievements over the past 125 years. Mr Sharon stressed the importance of education and thanked ORTs lay leaders for their tremendous contribution to Israel both financially and in moral support. Indeed, we estimate that since ORT established its network in Israel in 1948 it has contributed some $1 billion to the country at todays prices. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the conference table with (from left) World ORT International Liaison Department Head Sonia Gomes de Mesquita, Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas, Deputy President Dr Jean de Gunzburg, President Sir Maurice Hatter, Director-General Robert Singer, Board of Directors Chairman Robert Sill, ORT Israel Director Zvi Peleg. The meeting with Mr Olmert, who is also Minister for Industry, Trade and Labour, focused on ORTs programmes in Israel for professional training and training for new immigrants. Mr Olmert recognised the importance of such programmes and acknowledged the positive impact ORT has made both in Israel and around the world. I have seen at first hand the high standards ORT schools have attained in Argentina and know that Jews in the former Soviet Union have greatly benefited from its activities. ORT has made a profound contribution to the society and economy of Israel since 1948 through its provision of high quality practical technological education and its commitment to the ethics necessary for social harmony, Mr Olmert said. (From left) World ORT President Sir Maurice Hatter, Director General Robert Singer, ORT Israel Director Zvi Peleg, Executive Committee Chairman Mauricio Merikanskas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Sir Maurice said that important progress was made at the Board of Directors and Executive Committee meetings, which attracted 80 delegates from 20 countries including 12 National Directors and 22 guests. The meetings were productive and useful, he said. I give my compliments to all those who attended. Together, we managed to satisfactorily resolve the administrative and constitutional obligations as we were obliged to by last years General Assembly. We will now be able to concentrate on the schools, the children and on our obligations to fund. Sir Maurice said he was delighted to announce at the meetings that World ORTs elite major donors organisation, The 1880 Society, has attracted nearly 60 members who have committed a total of more than $10.5 million. I think thats a fantastic achievement particularly as the Society was only launched in April last year. I look forward to pushing towards 100 members of this amazing and unique group of senior ORT lay leaders. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organisation with more than three million graduates from 100 countries since 1880.