ORT in Britain

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ORT was established in Britain in 1921. It organised its first fundraising concert on 20 April 1921 at Hampstead Town Hall in London. One of the highlights of British ORT’s (now ORT UK's) history was the Jubilee Fundraising Dinner at the Savoy Hotel in 1930. The Guest of Honour was Albert Einstein, and sharing the platform with him were George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, the Chief Rabbi, Dr Hertz, with Lord Rothschild presiding. Until the outbreak of the Second World War, British ORT was active both in fund raising and in various special projects such as assisting the Vilna Technicum, ORT’s flagship technical institute in Vilnius.

In 1937 an ORT school was established in Berlin to provide a technical education for Jewish boys excluded from state schools by the Nazis. Because of the increasingly precarious position of Jews in Nazi Germany, ownership of the school buildings and equipment was registered under British ORT. By July 1938, over 200 boys aged between 14-17 from all over northern Germany were studying at the school. With the war fast approaching, British ORT arranged to transfer the school to England. Over 100 students and several teachers arrived in England at the end of August 1939 and a new school was established in Leeds to carry on the work and training that had begun in Berlin. It continued to operate until 1942.

After the war, in June 1946, training workshops for boys were set up in London teaching mechanics and electrics. Later, dressmaking and design courses were opened for girls and women. In the same year, ORT, in agreement with the Jewish Marine League, started training young men for careers as merchant navy officers and navigators aboard a decommissioned anti-submarine vessel used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. The training took place in the Thames Estuary. From October 1946 agricultural training was provided by a training farm run by ORT in Bedfordshire. The Goldington ORT centre was established in association with Hechalutz B’Anglia and provided practical training in general farming, poultry keeping and market gardening.

British ORT (now ORT UK) carried on its fundraising activities in aid of World ORT operations throughout this period and has continued to support global ORT programmes ever since.