Supporting the ORT Network & Securing the future of Jewish Communities in the Former Soviet Union

Teacher Training and Retention
Funding is urgently required for both general and Jewish education teachers at ORT’s schools in the FSU. Over the past few years, competition from state and private schools has increased along with higher state funding, resulting in opportunities elsewhere for the highly capable teachers that ORT employs. Without the support of its donors, ORT can no longer pay competitive salaries needed to retain teachers or continue to train its best teachers.

Funds are also required to pay the salaries of local Jewish studies teachers, who are not paid by the state authorities. Without those funds, over 100 Jewish teachers could be made redundant, and 4,500 Jewish students would be in grave danger of being without a regular, structured supply of Jewish education.

Formal and Informal Jewish Education
One of the consequences of many years of suppression of religious practice under communist rule is that the Jewish communities in many of the former Soviet states are dispersed throughout the city, with no focal point where Jews can gather.

In addition, the ban on active religious practice for several generations means that Jewish families have gradually lost all ties with their Jewish heritage. The emphasis must therefore be on providing a level of education to the schoolchildren which will allow them to rebuild those ties with the past, and to take that knowledge home, educating their parents and grandparents and, in the future, their children.

The schools and Jewish education therefore take on a crucial role for the community as a whole, acting as a focal point and a catalyst for the resuscitation of Jewish life. It is also necessary that education take the form not solely of formal Jewish religious practice and Hebrew language, but also of informal education, giving the students experience of Jewish culture and heritage, through music, art and literature.

Sadly, anti-Semitism is still a daily fact in the FSU. As a result, it is essential for Jewish schools to take added measures to ensure the safety and security of their students and staff. Jewish schools have been forced to hire private security agencies to provide guards at the schools. Without these measures, parents are wary of sending their children to Jewish schools.

ORT UK is looking to secure £0.5m of funding towards this vital project

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