ORT director-general and CEO Avi Ganon at the Jerusalem Post Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
At the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, Dario Werthein, chair of the World ORT Board of Trustees, and ORT director-general and CEO Avi Ganon, outlined the vision of the venerable organization, which will celebrate its 140th anniversary next year.
“ORT’s mission,” explained Werthein, “is impact through education,” providing its students with vocational tools to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math, which are essential in today’s hi-tech environment.
ORT’s focus extends beyond academic and vocational advancement, he added. “We are dedicated to producing well-rounded, confident, resilient individuals, with a social conscience and the sense of responsibility to become future leaders,” he said.
Werthein noted that ORT operates 72 schools in 35 countries, with more than 300,000 students.
He said that his roots in ORT can be traced to his grandfather who founded ORT in Argentina, and to his mother, who was president of ORT Argentina. He is particularly proud of ORT’s partnership program with Pope Francis in the Scholas program to promote understanding between children of different backgrounds across the globe.
Avi Ganon addressed his remarks to the role that ORT can play in meeting two challenges: improving education and combating antisemitism. Citing statistics that show Israel falling behind much of the world in its investment and progress in education, Ganon warned that “the Start-Up Nation, known for its technological innovation and know-how, will lose this reputation unless its education improves.”
To stem the tide, he said that a well-directed investment by ORT, together with the State of Israel and world Jewry, can reverse the worrisome trend. He added that ORT’s schools around the world include both Jewish and non-Jewish students, all of whom study Jewish history, culture and traditions, thus increasing understanding between students.
By helping maintain a strong Israel, a strong Diaspora and a strong reputation for Jews worldwide, said Ganon, ORT will continue to strive to place the future in the hands of the next generation.
The story was written in cooperation with World ORT.
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