ORT America at 100 Shirley Sokolsky: Beloved Leader and Friend to All

Shirley Sokolsky joined Women's American ORT in Chicago in 1955 and, with her late husband Burton's encouragement, served in many key national and regional leadership positions throughout the years. Throughout her involvement, she has been admired and respected by all. Her exceptional leadership in the Chicago and Florida Regions, included serving as a Board member of the Points of Boca Trail Chapter, and Area Development Consultant and Advisor. She also served as the National Major Donor Chair while in Dallas and later in Florida.

In 1969 Shirley was selected to participate in a six week National WAO mission to visit ORT schools and meet with students in Israel, France, Switzerland, Italy, Morocco, Iran as well as Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. This experience was life-changing and impacted her commitment to ORT for years to come.

A longstanding member of the Heritage Club of the Baroness de Gunzburg Society; the International World ORT 1880 Society; a Diamond Ladder; a Golden Society member as well as a life member, Shirley is an inspiration to so many. Her dedication to ORT is demonstrated through a generous bequest she established in her will, which will ensure that future generations of ORT beneficiaries will continue to receive support.

“Once I became an adult, I understood not only my Mom's passion for ORT, but her vital concern for Jewish survival around the world. She feels deeply for ensuring the strength and success of Jewish individuals and their communities, especially Israel, and for obtaining the tools and resources needed to make it happen. Mom always saw both the big picture, the ethical means to implement and sustain it, and the social savvy to influence others to act. Who could not be proud of such a mom?” said Shirley’s daughter Debra Kanter, ORT National Board Member and Planned Giving Committee Chair, when asked how about her mother.

Shirley’s extraordinary generosity continues to improve the quality of life for ORT students. She is a role model for others who aim to create a better understanding of and advance support for ORT’s mission. The Florida Region recognized her dedication by establishing the annual Shirley Sokolsky Leadership Award.

Watch the video to hear in her own words what ORT means to her