ORT is one of the world oldest and largest NGOs dedicated to education and vocational training. It was founded in St Petersburg, Russia in 1880 to provide relief to the impoverished Jews of Tsarist Russia by offering them opportunities to develop technical qualifications that would help them ensure sustainability and financial independence.
In Belgium, between 1945 and 1965 three ORT schools were supporting Holocaust survivors in their efforts to (re)integrate professional life. Several members of our Community can still recall courses they attended in one of our schools in the aftermath of WWII. If you are one of them, please contact us, as we are looking for testimonials: pictures, degrees, copy books, and other items that we would like to donate to the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
ORT in Belgium
These schools were founded by AIVG (Aide aux Israélites Victimes de la Guerre) and managed primarily by the representatives of major Jewish social and cultural institutions. Well known personalities were sitting on their Board: Paul Philippson, Jules Wolf, Roger Van Praag, Herz Jospa et Nathanaël Lewkowicz.
AIVG was created by the Committee for Jewish Defense (Comité de Défense des Juifs) which had its origin in the Resistance movement and was the ancestor of the Jewish Social Fund (Service Social Juif). Baron Georges Schnek, who was Professor Emeritus at the Free University Brussels (ULB) and Honorary President of ORT until his death in March 2012, was teaching chemistry, physics and Jewish history in ORT schools.
Every year World ORT counts more than 250,000 students, Jewish and non-Jewish, who benefit from its programmes, training centres and schools in more than 60 countries worldwide. They are technical, secondary, higher education schools or even universities. Since its foundation, ORT training activities have spanned more than 100 countries providing educational development to several million people. ORT is a non-sectarian organisation with more than 3 million graduates worldwide.
The image of the traditional technical schools has changed and today, comprises universities and thanks to the World ORT activities in Israel, developing cooperation agreements with such prestigious institutions as Technion in Haifa, Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, the University of Haifa or the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Nowadays, ORT’s objective is to offer everyone, according to his/her personality, resources for a successful school, university or professional path. From classroom education in groups to online trainings, modern and tested teaching methods have been introduced at every level. Education and trainings delivered by ORT aim at providing knowledge and well-being as well as developing the entrepreneurial spirit of their students.
ORT Belgium supports financially World ORT which, in turn, is managing the international group. Regular events are held in Belgium to raise awareness of ORT and its activities. World ORT is part of the NGOs which have been recognised by the Council of Europe and by UNESCO.
Charlotte Gutman-Fischgrund – Chairwoman