The History of ORT

ORT trade school history

For Los Angeles ORT students it may come as a surprise to know that ORT first opened its doors more than 130 years ago. In 1880 the first ORT College was established in Russia, by three Jewish philanthropists. Hoping to help the thousands of poverty stricken Jews who had taken refuge in the city, these three men funded an organization by the Russian name of Obshestvo Remeslenofo zemledelcheskofo Truda, meaning The Society for Trades and Agricultural Labor, otherwise known by its acronym as ORT. Right away, ORT’s mission was to provide employable skills to students and ultimately “help people help themselves.”

At first, ORT programs trained people to become shoemakers, tailors and printers. These in demand jobs allowed people to support themselves and their families, and stay out of the soup kitchens. Immediately after World War II, there was another chaotic upheaval as thousands of refugees were misplaced and had to begin picking up the pieces of their lives. Again, ORT was there to help these war torn people assimilate some kind of order as they started from scratch. Without the training that ORT provided, many of these people would have had nowhere to turn. ORT was a stepping stone and a life preserve that permitted a better life.

LA ORT trade school history

In the “History of ORT” video, one woman recounts the moving story of her escape from Nazi-run Poland. Over 30,000 Jews were forced out of their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. Remarkably, her mother was able to sew garments for her family and the refugees, using the skills she has learned from ORT and the Singer sewing machine she purchased on her own. The training this woman completed literally helped her and her family survive their terrifying escape.

Although the coursework may be different today, the ideas are still the same. ORT is constantly working to help people achieve employable skills, become self-sufficient, and experience a better life. Now, ORT offers programs like graphic design, medical training and accounting, all fields that are in high demand. It is because of ORT’s clear ability to foster applicable programs that this college has an 89% student job placement rate. Currently, ORT is established in 60 countries throughout the world, and in Israel 25% of the workforce are ORT graduates. So, no matter where you are in life, ORT has the resources to get you on the path to success!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   ORT Seamstress

If you are interested in learning more, contact an ORT advisor today and began one of the life-changing programs at Los Angeles ORT!

LA ORT is a group of nonprofit junior colleges in Los Angeles and Van Nuys provide career training in short term courses.