Happy Mother’s Day from ORT!
This Mother’s Day we are celebrating the extraordinary women whose unending commitment to achieving impact through education forms the foundation of ORT. Shirley Sokolsky and her daughter Debbie Kanter exemplify two trailblazing ORTists whose steadfast support spans generations.
Shirley’s involvement in ORT began in the 1950s in Highland Park, Illinois. In her hometown, Shirley produced monthly ORT newsletters and even starred in ORT’s version of My Fair Lady, where she proudly sang, “All I want is a school somewhere!” In the 1960s, Shirley was one of a select few who participated in a six week mission to visit ORT schools in France, Israel, and Iran. Upon returning to the U.S., Shirley raised awareness of ORT’s work by presenting to ORT Chapters and regions around the country.
Shirley’s contribution to empowering Jewish communities around the world means everything to her daughter Debbie. As a child, Debbie helped her mother produce ORT’s newsletters—a tradition she proudly carried forward as an ORTist when she started her own family in Des Moines, Iowa. Through ORT, Debbie formed lifelong friendships and contributed to meaningful ORT projects, including writing an Op-ed on Soviet Jewry for the Des Moines Register. Debbie’s most memorable ORT experience was her role in helping to bring the “Anne Frank in the World” exhibit from Amsterdam to Des Moines. The exhibit had a profound effect on Debbie’s children, Michelle and Jonathan. When applying to college, Michelle wrote her admissions essay on her personal connection to Anne Frank.
For Shirley, Debbie, and their family, ORT means expanding opportunity by empowering Jewish communities to live peaceably and productively. Today we celebrate Shirley and Debbie and the generations of ORTists who follow in their footsteps.
L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation) we thank all of our ORTists for lighting the path to a bright future.