Asaf Bartov (ijon) wrote,
Asaf Bartov

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Any Israeli knows the ORT schools -- vocational high-schools often foregoing full matriculations, offering instead some training in trades ranging from secretarial skills to electronics and economy.

When I was very young, I thought it had something to do with a famous British commando who trained Jewish resistance fighters in the late 1930s, called Orde Charles Wingate. When I learned that his name was in fact Orde and not "Ort" as it was commonly mispronounced (at my elementary school, anyway), I shrugged and never bothered to seek the meaning of the name "Ort" (Hebrew does not provide one with the visual cue of all-capital acronyms).

So last night, in casual conversation, veryty reveals that ORT, in fact, stands for (brace yourselves!) --

Obshchestvo Rasprostraneniya Truda sredi Yevreyev


So it turns out ORT was founded in 1880 in St. Peterburg by a group of wealthy and influential Jews, to promote craftsmen and farmers in their business and technical know-how. They became an international organization in 1921, helping a lot of Jews to start leading productive (i.e. non-"luft-geschäft") lives -- a touchy topic with Jews to this day -- and when the State of Israel was founded (1948), ORT begun operating here as well.

All this was available at ORT's Web site all along, of course, but I never bothered to look it up.

I realize you may ask yourselves "Um, so what?" The reason I write all this is to document my surprise and the funny way old "household" terms suddenly spring up and gather new meaning and associations. Neat.

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