ORT America Pins
The practice of awarding ORT pins for donations or milestones was very popular from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, especially within regional ORT chapters. Since the merger of American ORT (Men’s division) and Women’s American ORT in 2006, and as individual chapters have disbanded, the pins no longer play a part within ORT.
The significance of the pins is varied. Some, such as the Golden Circle, designate a level of individual giving (specifically $1,000). Members who served as chapter presidents were awarded a President’s pin, and there were pins for each year of involvement. For those who gave a significant amount to the 1880 Society, there was the Baroness (De Gunzberg) ORT Society pin, shaped with a stylized infinity symbol.
Here are some recollections from ORT members and their pins.
When I moved to Encino in 1965 I was lucky enough to find Ballina Hills Chapter of Women's American ORT. What a welcome I received! From that moment, I knew that I was about to experience a new dimension in my life. Ballina Hills was more than women doing fundraising and socializing. It was more like a family, where husbands and some of the children were very much a part of the chapter, lending hands and support, whenever it was needed. We cared for each other while having a purpose in fundraising, believing that "If you give a man bread, you nourish him once. If you teach him to plant, you nourish him forever!" What better can you do for humankind than to teach people to be self sustaining so they can take care of themselves and their families.
Ballina Hills women were extraordinary women who worked hard over the years, creating events that were fun and made money for ORT. Our annual Have a Heart luncheon was a huge fundraiser, where both women and men came together to make this annual event that became such a success for many years.
There was a time that pins were presented to members for reaching certain goals in fundraising. I will be 90 on August 26, and thought that it was time to get rid of things. As I was trying to sort out things, I came upon the ORT pins.
The “collage pin” was made by an artist. She did this for many of us who had a collection of pins as a way to display our many years of loyalty to ORT along with our commitment of time and financial support.
The Wedgewood pin in the center was a premier pin for many of us. Once we stepped up our financial support and earned the Golden Circle Pin with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, the Wedgewood pin went unworn. The other pins include my Golden Circle pin, the ‘Baroness” pin, my Life Member pin, and a few belonging to my mother-in-law.
These pins represent many years of involvement, leadership and support from 1978 until the present day.
This pin reminds me of when I left my hometown of Philadelphia and moved to Seattle for work. The first move of my life and I was searching for my Jewish community there. I met a wonderful woman, Terry Azose, of the Seattle chapter of ORT and through that connection I was able to congregate with my people.
It brings me joy and pride to have this pin. Thank you for allowing me to share my story.
My grandmother, Ruth B. Solomon (née Cohen), was a member of the Islanders Chapter in the mid-1960s. Attached is a picture of her member pins from 1962 to 1966 and a gold medallion charm. Originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts, she moved to North Miami, Florida in the late 1950s.
Oh, what wonderful, meaningful memories you triggered when you asked for these ORT pin pictures. Below is what I kept of the many, many ORT pins I was awarded thru my ORT years. For me personally, in the very beginning of my active ORT days, it meant a sense of belonging. However, soon It meant being an integral part of a huge Jewish organization which gave ORT students personal growth through education but also gave me personal growth from being a member to committee chairs, to chapter president, and lastly Passaic County Region President. And we all wore our pins proudly.
I’m showing the front and back of the Golden Circle pin which represented a $1000.00 contribution. Also, see my “President pin” and membership pins.
These pins are from my mother’s collection. She was involved in ORT from the 1970s to the early 90s.
Ann Shapiro, Albany NY
These pins belonged to my mother, Evelyn Radway, who passed away in 2018 at age 88. She was a member of ORT in Ohio, then San Diego, CA.
Shelly Hartnett, Atlanta GA
My mother, Leona T. Ball from Rego Park, Queens (New York), was her chapter's treasurer for many years. Here are some of her pins.
Deborah S. Ball
Here are pins from Mrs. Mae Novy, a past president of Village West ORT (Manchester, NJ). These are just a few of the pins Mrs. Novy had from the 1970s to the 80s , and her Chapter President pins.
My Mom, Sylvia Hausman, got started in ORT in the Valley Region of Los Angeles (I believe in the 60s). I remember attending meetings with her and running to various people's houses to drop off and pick up things for meetings and activities when I was a kid. My sister, Jo Ann Kay, joined a chapter after having her first child in the early 80s, and I helped to start a young professional chapter in the mid-80s. My sister got involved in one of the Denver chapters when she moved in 1993. I moved to Denver a couple of years later and started back with ORT. That's how we met so many of our current friends.
These pins are mostly the ones that were from my involvement. I believe the top-right pin was my mother's. She would have turned 100 this year as well. A great year to celebrate!
My name is Judy Adelman, an ORT member in California's San Fernando Valley (Valley Region), who was active for many years including as a president of the South Valley Chapter and Valley Region Treasurer. It was the source of friendship and belonging for me when we relocated to California in 1973. I moved to Ventura, CA in 2009 and still have several of my ORT pins.
However, this is about my mother, Eleanor Keen, a long-time member of ORT in Highland Park, Illinois's Lake County Region (where my ORT membership began, due to her example). She took on many different roles in her chapter there — probably beginning in the late 1950s — before moving to Boca Raton, FL in 1983. Upon her passing in 2006 we discovered a variety of ORT pins among her jewelry items. Having kept mine, I was OK with my sister taking them, and I didn't give it much thought after that.
So, it was a delightful and touching surprise to receive from my siblings for my 70th birthday this framed hommage to my and my mother's involvement with Women's American ORT. It hangs on my bedroom wall — a daily reminder of this bond we shared.
Just some of the many pins my mother, Irma Savin Bien, earned in her 30-plus years as a volunteer, leader, and fundraiser for Essex County ORT from 1960 to 1990.
I am her proud daughter,
Shoshana Sondra Bien Shamberg
Our mom, Zelda Rae Walder, belonged to Women’s American Ort in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was a member of the Diamond Chapter.
My sister and I always knew she was going to be busy on the phone getting donations for the ad book when the big blue binder appeared on the kitchen table. She would spend hours on the phone asking for donations. Every year she would ask for more money. Sometimes people said yes, and sometimes they said no. She even got a donation from Vice President Humphrey!!! She was never discouraged and always continued to do her work.
In the winter months, she would get donations to help with the lox and bagel breakfasts, which was always the Diamond Chapter’s biggest fundraiser of the year. She would spend hours on the phone selling these breakfast boxes and was always the top seller.
The best thing that my sister and I looked forward to each year was the ORT brunch. All the chapters would get together, and there would be speeches and awards. Our mother received all her pins at these brunches. We were always very proud of her. She would wear her pins every year at the brunch, and she was so proud of how much she accomplished.
Tova Koren and Annette Walder
These ORT pins that belonged to my grandmother, Hannah Moll, in honor of ORT America's 100th anniversary. Hannah lived on the north side of Chicago, including a period of time in West Rogers Park and Winston Towers. Hannah's daughter kept the pins for many years after Hannah's passing, eventually giving them to her niece (Hanna's granddaughter), who gave them to ORT America.
The north side of Chicago was a very active and involved ORT community for decades. The pins span the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, including one celebrating 60 years of Women's American ORT and another celebrating 100 years of World ORT in 1988. The pin with a gavel indicates Hanna's leadership as a chapter president.
My family's ORT connection began with my sister, Barbara Kahan, in the 1980s. Soon after, my mother, Miriam Yashon, became involved in an ORT chapter in Northbrook, Illinois, eventually becoming its president and co-president for many years. These pins are reflective of her involvement as a member, a leader, and a major gift contributor. In turn, I became a member, leader and major gift contributor. The entire family is passionate about being a part of a Jewish organization that has impacted so many young lives around the world with education and hope.
Linda Kirschbaum, ORT America Past President