ORT stands for Organization for Rehabilitation through Training. Over a Chanukah lunch, Beverly Hills hotel, with Marrina Wax at the piano and David Suissa, the president of Tribe Media, which owns the Jewish Journal, as the keynote speaker, ORT celebrated ninety years in America and honored Holocaust survivor Ann Spicer.
ORT provides the means for everyone, regardless of their resources, to obtain an education. ORT America provides advanced education and training and fulfills the dreams and aspirations of over 300,000 people, in 61 countries, including Israel, Europe, the Baltic and commonwealth of Independence States (CIS), Africa, Latin America and the United States. ORT America gives individuals the means to rise above their difficult life circumstances through education and thus become productive citizens.
It never ceases to amaze me what I discover hides behind the curtain of an organization with a cause. ORT is just one on a list of many.
They say that if it was not for the Maccabees, the Jewish faith would have perished. By the same token, one can claim that if not for ORT, hundreds of thousands of people would have not gotten a chance to better their lives or even survive.
In her speech, the honoree Ann Spicer told a moving story about her years in Nazi concentration camps and her miracle of survival. Mrs. Spicer brought to center the reason why Jews vow, “Never Again” and why they have to fight for who they are and what they stand for, mainly hold on to each other for themselves and for the world. In 1939, as Hitler began making the life of the European Jews hell on earth, Ann took classes in dressmaking, at ORT in her hometown Radom, Poland. This vocation was a great factor why she survived the Holocaust.
Philanthropist Stanley Black established ORT Los Angeles 20 years ago, and since then, 20,000 graduated from this ORT branch have added to the remarkable 80% success in placing ORT graduates in the workforce.
ORT emphasis is on the new generation that will continue holding ORT’s torch for its cause. For that Deena Eberly, the chairperson of the Next Generation Initiative for ORT, she started in 2003 was honored.
ORT means a clear message: the Jewish nation made a complete circle in 64 years; from persecution and gas chambers to sovereignty and freedom, education and being a light unto the nations. What a miracle; a Chanukah miracle every day.
The Jewish nation keeps on rebuilding itself and one way to do it is through education. Since Jewish solidarity begins with Tzedakah, literally meaning righteousness but commonly used to signify charity, then ORT can be one cause to implement generous Tzedakah.
Investment in education still gives one of the best returns on one’s money.