ORT in the United States

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World ORT’s Leon Bramson and Aron Syngalowski arrived in New York on 16 April 1922 to appeal for support and funding for ORT’s work in Eastern Europe. Their visit sparked a general interest among the American Jewish community. ORT in the United States – The American ORT Society – was thus formally established on June 22, 1922.


The organisation developed along the lines of a multi-group federation and was primarily supported by the Jewish labour movement. The following years saw several name changes and mergers until in 1936 the organisation once more changed its name to American ORT Federation (AOF).

In 1927, a group of American ORT women decided to branch out independently and formed Women’s American ORT (WAO). While always basic to funding ORT’s ongoing operations, WAO has also channelled its aid into programmes of accelerated adult training, scholarships for training of teachers, social assistance, apprenticeships and school construction and equipment. By the late 1970s there were 1,050 WAO chapters and 130,000 members.

In 1947, AOF agreed to stop fundraising in the United States in exchange for an annual contribution from JDC for ORT programmes. However, this relationship did not meet the demands of their worldwide ORT commitment. Consequently, in the late 1950s AOF established local chapters. American ORT Federation became American ORT, Inc. in the late 1980s. During this period, it also developed industry chapters in various fields such as jewellery, real estate, finance and engineering. Fundraising was done through direct solicitation of funds from business associates and friends, and during annual events.

In the United States, ORT provided training for the influx of refugees from war-torn Europe, and later the Displaced Persons camps, putting US operations into action.  In 1942, WAO and the US Operations Subcommittee of American ORT established Bramson ORT – Later known as Bramson ORT College. During the 1980s and 1990s, an influx of Russian, Iranian and other Jewish immigrants propelled US operations once more. This resulted in a joint effort by WAO and AOF to accommodate the increasing number of applicants who sought access to advanced technology education. In 1985 the Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute (LAOTI) opened its doors and ORT Bramson moved to a new building in Forest Hills, New York. The Zarem-Golde ORT Technical Institute opened in Chicago in 1991. New programmes also opened in Miami and Atlanta as a service to local Jewish communities. In 2003 the David B. Hermelin ORT Resource Centre in the Dan and Betty Kahn Jewish Community Centre in West Bloomfield, Michigan was opened.

In 2007, American ORT merged with Women's American ORT to become ORT America, reuniting the two groups once again. Over the years, the American ORT organisations have raised funds in support of ORT’s programmes in 58 countries.