ORT was established in Russia in 1880 to help the Jewish population of 5 million in the Pale of Settlement by providing educational opportunities to lift people out of poverty, transforming their lives with dignity and purpose.
Originally called Obschestvo Remeslenovo i. Zemledelcheskovo Trouda (the Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor), ORT was a pioneer in teaching, forming farming, tool and industrial cooperatives and using new techniques to train Jews as artisans in everything from sewing and hand-weaving to mechanics and furniture design. After World War I, the objectives and focus of ORT shifted from exclusively helping Russian Jews to an organization that linked Jews across the globe – first in Europe and later on other continents. ORT opened vocational and agricultural schools and encouraged industrial expansion by providing tools and training. When the State of Israel was declared in May 1948 and the country accepted Jewish refugees as immigrants, ORT began operations to create workshops in Jaffa and Jerusalem to rehabilitate and train the new citizenry.
World ORT was established in London in 1921, followed by Women’s American ORT in 1922 and American ORT in 1927. World ORT administers an international network of ORT schools and programs in 53 countries, constituting the largest non-governmental educational initiative in the world. In 2006, ORT in the United States consolidated to become ORT America.
Everywhere ORT has set down roots in its 135-year history, people and communities have flourished. Support for ORT spans decades and generations, with contributors blending their deep Jewish admiration of education with the moral imperative of tikkun olam – repairing the world.
With seven regional offices nationwide, ORT America is the leading fundraising organization for World ORT, whose Kadima Mada educational network in Israel and worldwide schools, colleges and international programs enable over 300,000 students to develop careers and lead fulfilling, independent lives. ORT spans the socio-economic divide, and with a focus on science and technology, optimal teaching environments, innovative programs and quality instruction, ORT students obtain knowledge and skills for the demands of the current job market. Thanks to the generosity of donors, ORT leads the way preparing students for bright outcomes and shaping the world for a better future, facilitated by ORT America fundraising efforts.