ORT in Bulgaria

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ORT Bulgaria was established in 1935. Workshops for woodwork, bookbinding, and tailoring opened in 1936 at the Jewish primary school in Sofia. In 1940, following anti-Jewish legislation, ORT’s activities had to close. They were renewed in April 1945. The Jewish community dedicated a building for the establishment of an ORT school in Sofia and a technical school was inaugurated in October 1947. Besides the school, various other workshops and training programmes were in operation, in both Sofia and Plovdiv.

By 1949, 90% of the Jewish population had left Bulgaria for Israel. ORT maintained its programme for the small remaining community, but with the changing political climate, had to wind up its operations altogether in 1951. The ORT school became a state school and the community was required to donate all its property and equipment to the state.

ORT relaunched its activities in Bulgaria in December 1995 when it set up an Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) in the Jewish school in Sofia. In 2003 the Bulgarian government and World ORT signed an agreement officially recognising ORT as an operational body within Bulgaria. Since October 2003 ORT has been working with the Ronald S Lauder Foundation and the Bulgarian authorities in running the Lauder-ORT No. 134 “Dimcho Debelianov” Jewish School in Sofia.