World ORT strengthens Israeli society


19 October 2007 World ORT strengthens Israeli society World ORTs projects in Israel have raised morale in areas of conflict, kindled hope in underprivileged towns and are strengthening Israeli society. This is according to the mayors of Horfesh and Kiryat Yam and the principal of Shaar HaNegev High School who have been visiting America and Britain to describe how their communities have benefited from World ORTs Kadima Mada (Science Journey) programme, our bid to raise the level of science and technology education in Israel. Under the aegis of Kadima Mada, Shaar HaNegev, which serves the stricken town of Sderot, Rodman High School in Kiryat Yam, near Haifa, and Horfesh High School, which serves the Druze town near the border with Lebanon, have each received state-of-the-art science and technology laboratories, hi-tech staff facilities (World ORT Teaching Empowerment Centres WOTECs), and financial support to help students from impoverished families to buy school essentials such as text books. The most important thing is that everything has been done efficiently, without too much talking, said Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Sisso. World ORT has given poor children the chance to learn about and experiment with new scientific methods this has opened the world to them. Thanks to the support of ORT America, the Rodman School is also due to receive a new science centre which will serve the entire Kiryat Yam community. For you this equipment is taken for granted; for us, its not, Mayor Sisso told members of World ORTs elite donors group, The 1880 Society, in New York. ORT America Executive Committee Chair Shelley Fagel, Shaar HaNegev Principal Aharon Rothstein, Kiryat Yam Mayor Shmuel Sisso, ORT America President Doreen Hermelin, Horfesh Mayor Rekad Kheredan and member of The 1880 Society, Marilyn Thypin. The principal of Shaar HaNegev School, Aharon Rothstein, said the help his school had received from World ORT extended far beyond the material. This trip to the USA and England, and this relationship with ORT, has shown me that Jewish solidarity still exists, Mr Rothstein said. This is worth even more than the money and equipment you have given us. What ORT is now is our friend. Shaar HaNegevs staff and students struggle to teach and learn under the constant threat of rocket attacks from Gaza, which lies just two kilometres away. During the summer, the school was hit twice by rockets; no-one was hurt but World ORT stepped in within 24 hours of the first attack with 15 laptops to enable students to work in the bomb shelter. He said that the effect of World ORTs support for his school went far beyond the primary goal of helping students receive the quality education they deserve, it went to the heart of Israels existence as a country. To close the school would be to close the area; to close the area would be to close Israel, he said. First Shaar HaNegev, then Sderot, then Ashkelon, then we can all just leave: as the Mayor of Sderot said, if Sderot falls, thats the day that Israel falls. What we are going through is a continuation of the War of Independence. Were still having to fight to establish our country. British ORT Chairman Alan Goldman with Mayors Kheredan and Sisso at the British ORT annual dinner. This existential aspect to World ORTs educational mission was also raised by the Mayor of Horfesh, Rekad Kheredan. Mayor Kheredan, who attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring from the IDF, is proud of the fact that the fellow Druze in his town of Horfesh lead the country in their commitment to Israels defence. Ninety-seven per cent of the men who graduate from Horfesh High School serve in the IDF, he said. And there are more officers, per capita, from Horfesh than from any other Israeli town. He said that the equipment, teacher training and financial support provided by World ORT had been enthusiastically received and was critically important to his efforts to raise the level of education in Horfesh. Improving education is the only way we can improve the economic situation in Horfesh, Mayor Kheredan said. But its not only important for Horfesh and for the Druze community, its even more important for the State of Israel and its security. To give these students an opportunity to go to the Technion, to be the best doctors and engineers and officers, is very important for the strength of Israeli society. Mayor Kheredan said that the tour of America, which included visits to ORT America supporters in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Cleveland, Miami and Boca Raton, meant that he was also able to tell Americans about the Druze contribution to Israel. Addressing The 1880 Society meeting in New York, Mayor Sisso said: ORT is now working in places in Israel that have never before received help from a Jewish organisation. Science Journey is giving students optimism and they are more positive about their chances in life: they see they can reach their goals. This is the most important thing that ORT is doing with the Science Journey programme. Kadima Mada was launched in January 2007 with the aim of raising the standard of science and technology education in Israel. Custom made, cutting edge facilities and teacher training have been supplied to schools on more than 30 campuses. The rapid implementation of Kadima Mada marks a new phase in World ORTs six-decade-long commitment to bring the best practical education available to the Jewish State. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.