In an interview at the Jerusalem Post’s virtual conference, ‘COVID-19 and the Jews: Challenges and Opportunities, Robert Singer, Chair of the Board of Trustees of World ORT explained the significance of the organization’s credo. Speaking with Maayan Hoffman, Jerusalem Post News Editor, Singer said that World ORT, which is celebrating its 140th anniversary, is a big family, and as in any family, “education is key even through crisis periods.” Parents want to provide their children with the very best education, and children look to education as a social outlet for friends and for climbing the ladder of success in life.
Singer said that World ORT, one of the oldest Jewish organizations in the world, has faced challenging situations throughout its long history, including two world wars, and difficulties with Communist regimes. “For us, COVID-19 is another challenge.” To illustrate the organization’s long history, he showed a letter from Nazi Adolf Eichmann, written in March 1941, granting the Jews permission to continue operating the ORT school in Berlin. He added that World ORT has thousands of volunteers helping its students continue their education online throughout the world during COVID-19, in different languages.
Responding to a query about the spike in antisemitism during the pandemic, Singer said that while the increase is worrisome, there is some reason for optimism. Dozens of countries have adopted the official IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of antisemitism, and most governments and legislations understand its significance. COVID-19 has brought back the resurgence of a new-old phenomena, said Singer, and “we have to fight back.”