The first ORT agricultural school in Lithuania was opened in 1928 in association with the Farmers Union. It was headed by ORT Lithuania’s Director, Jacob Oleiski. However, due to financial difficulties it was closed two years later.
In March 1934 a 12-month housekeeping and home economics course was established in Ungarina estate in Marijampole county. The following year the course was transferred to Kalinava estate near Kaunas, where it operated for a further 18 months.
The course was aimed at German Jewish refugees who had crossed the boarder to Lithuania following Hitler’s election. But Lithuanian youngsters over the age of 16 with primary school or other equivalent education were also admitted.
‘Conditions for Jews in Germany were deteriorating daily, and we had many candidates for immigration to Lithuania. Soon we had four groups: one to study mechanics, one electronics, and two agriculture - one with a Jewish farmer in Ungarina near Maryampol, sixty km. from Kovno, and another in the Kalinova area near Kovno. The youngsters were supported by the ORT office in Berlin as well as the Aid Society for German Jews. Lithuanian Jewry accepted these youngsters with open arms - as Jews always have when confronted by antiSemitic persecutions.’
Source: Jacob Oleiski, A Man’s Work, ORT Israel and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, Tel Aviv, 1986, p. 34.
The course provided a mix of theoretical education and hands-on practical experience. On the farming side, agronomists Jokūbas Roseinas [Yakov Rasein] and Kagan led the courses. The school published pamphlets titled “We Will Become Farmers” and “House Flowers” as well as a vocational calendar for craftsmen and farmers. Groups with names such as Kūjis [Hammer], Hechalutz [the Pioneer], Avoda [Work] completed the course.