The New Millennium Heralds Landmark Growth and Change

A young student in an ORT Moscow school.

The start of the new century was an exciting time for American supporters of World ORT. WAO, for example, was instrumental in ORT’s return to Cuba in 2000, providing funding for the ORT Technology Center there. Another major initiative called the Regeneration 2000 campaign focused on rebuilding and revitalizing Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union including Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania. A network of new ORT schools thanks to American support were established in urban centers such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Odessa, Kiev, and Minsk.

And then, in a historic move in 2006, the American ORT and WAO formed a new entity – a single organization called ORT America. The consolidation was a direct result of an 8-person restructuring committee led by WAO President Judy Menikoff and American ORT President Joe Cohen. For the next 15 years, the organization renewed its ongoing commitment to existing initiatives and developed new ones, heralding an exciting era of strength and synergistic resolve.

ORT America Today

Entrepreneurship class in Kiryat Yam, Israel.

Entrepreneurship class in Kiryat Yam, Israel.

Today, with its eight regions across the United States, the organization remains at the forefront of providing vocational education, including 21st century technological training for Jews across the globe. ORT America supports students in schools, universities, and training programs in more than 40 countries. In Europe, the former Soviet Union and Latin America, ORT Schools offer STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses, providing young people with the ability to thrive through top-notch, technology-rich education, building skills in sought out fields, and making deep connections to Judaism through Jewish studies and community involvement. In Israel, where ORT’s efforts focus on communities in the geographic and economic periphery, students from low socio-economic backgrounds benefit from STEM education and afterschool programs focused on subjects such as cybersecurity and robotics. And in South Africa, Cuba, Greece, and Ghana, ORT has many projects for struggling Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

CohORT Leadership Team on a virtual meeting, 2021.

In its continued effort to build internal leadership, ORT America created the National Leadership CohORT, an ever-changing body of active women and men from all over the country who are committed and involved with the organization. For the last century, ORT America and its resolute supporters have played a significant role in preserving and supporting Jewish life through devastating times of war, the Holocaust, pandemics, poverty, displaced persons, and stock market crashes, as well as through joyous times such as the creation of the State of Israel, civil rights, the new millennium, and peace. This modern organization which proudly has a woman at its helm, for the first time will continue to build Jewish community and strength following the impeccable vision of ORT’s founders – that is, using ever-changing education as the key to unlocking a forever future for the Jewish people everywhere.