For more than 140 years ORT has been transforming lives through training and education

ORT in the 19th Century: Strong Foundations

ORT was founded in St Petersburg, Tsarist Russia, in 1880 to provide employable skills for Russia’s impoverished Jews. The organization’s founding fathers were Nikolai Bakst, Baron Horace Gunzburg and Samuel Poliakov.

Together with several influential members of the St Petersburg Jewish community they obtained permission to form ORT, a “charitable fund for a useful purpose”, in honor of the Tsar’s 25th anniversary. The name “ORT” was coined from the acronym of the Russian words “Obshestvo Remeslennogo i zemledelcheskogo Truda”, meaning “The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labour”.

ORT distributed funds to Jewish schools for handicraft and agricultural training and provided grants or loans to artisans and farmers. In the early 1900s the organization began to sponsor cooperative ventures, to support training programs in Jewish schools and to establish its own vocational schools.

1880 - Founder and President of ORT

Samuel Poliakov


Founder and President of ORT 1880-1888

1880 - Founder and Chief Executive of ORT

Nikolai Bakst


Founder and Chief Executive of ORT 1880-date unknown

1890 - Sifting grain

Sifting grain using a machine hired from ОRT

Alexandreni [Aleksandreny], Bessarabia, Romania [now Moldova]