Foundation of World ORT Union

Following the work of the ORT delegation at the Paris office, the first conference of European ORT organisations took place in Berlin in August 1921. It was a small affair in which were represented 12 local ORT committees and initiative groups in Berlin, Brest [Brest Litovsk; Brisk], Chişinău [Kishinev], Hrodna [Grodno], Kaunas [Kovno], Kiev, London, Paris, Pinsk, Piotrków Trybunalski, Vilnius [Vilna] and Warsaw.

The conference heard reports from experts dealing with Jewish agriculture, vocational training, technical publications and related subjects. Bramson presented an elaborate plan for developing ORT’s work outside of Russia which was a blueprint for things to come. The plan was approved by the conference. Under it, local ORT societies and committees were to constitute the new ORT Union of local and regional (national) affiliates. Emphasis was placed on the necessity of local self-help and local participation in ORT budgets, not only as a means of financing local projects, but as a social principle distinguishing ORT from traditional patterns of charitable work. The conference thus established the World ORT Union and by this act formed a centre from which the vast work of rebuilding could be directed.

Zalman Szabad was elected chairman of the 18-member Central Council of the new ORT Union. Leon Bramson and Moyshe Zylberfarb were Vice-Chairman, and David Lvovitch was a member of the Council. A 3-person Central Board, the executive body of the new organisation, included Bramson, Lvovitch and Jacob Tsegelnitski. Dr Aron Syngalowski was elected Secretary General.Berlin became the seat of the Union and remained so until the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933.