Our History

ORT was founded in St Petersburg, Tsarist Russia, in 1880 to provide employable skills for Russia’s impoverished Jews.

The organization’s founding fathers were Nikolai Bakst, Baron Horace de Gunzburg and Samuel Poliakov.
Together with several influential members of the St Petersburg Jewish community, they obtained permission to form ORT, a “charitable fund for a useful purpose”, in honour of the Tsar’s 25th anniversary.

The name “ORT” was coined from the acronym of the Russian words “Obshestvo Remeslennogo i zemledelcheskogo Truda”, meaning “The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labour”.

ORT distributed funds to Jewish schools for handicraft and agricultural training and provided grants or loans to artisans and farmers. In the early 1900s the organization began to sponsor cooperative ventures, to support training programs in Jewish schools and to establish its own vocational schools.

Click here to view the ORT entry in the Encyclopedia Judaica published by the MacMillan Company, Volume 12, 1971 by Keter Publishing House Limited

To learn more about our history, click here.