Departing chief calls for north supp-ORT

BRINGING ORT NORTH: Adam Overlander-Kaye

MANCUNIAN Adam Overlander-Kaye is hoping people in the north sit up and take notice of ORT UK.

Mr Overlander-Kaye, 44, the charity’s departing chief executive, said: “Growing up in Manchester, I had never heard of ORT. The only thing I think they did in Manchester was running a catering programme with King David schools, in the 1970s or 80s.

“We know there is a plethora of Jewish charities, but ORT needs to be in the mix. We are alive and kicking and we have a huge operation, which is making a massive impact all around the world.

“If people are looking at a place for their charity or philanthropy, I would like ORT to be in their minds.”

Mr Overlander-Kaye will join Jewish Care in October as director of Fundraising and Community Engagement.

The oldest Jewish charity in the world, ORT operates in 37 countries and helps 300,000 students.

“ORT was founded in 1880 in St Petersburg by edict of Tsar Alexander II, ostensibly to give poor Russian Jewish peasants the skills needed to become self-sufficient.

“That technological advancement and vocational training continues today, with our focus on science, technology, engineering and maths in more than 30 countries around the world,” Mr Overlander-Kaye explained.

He recently visited an ORT school in Chisinau, Moldova, and has seen projects in Ukraine, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Israel.

“Jewish schools across the former Soviet Union were closed by Stalin and reopened after the fall of communism,” Adam explained.

“There are families there whose relatives survived tsarist Russia, the Holocaust and then communism and who are still identifying as Jews.

“Our focus in the former Soviet Union is not just on science, but Jewish education, too.

“There are so many families who want that.”

Mr Overlander-Kaye, the son of Rosalind and Franklin Kaye, of Ra’anana, attended King David Primary School, Manchester, and William Hulme’s Grammar School.

He spent a gap year in Israel with Bnei Akiva and read history and social science at the University of Birmingham.

Mr Overlander-Kaye returned to Manchester, where he spent a year working as BA’s northern fieldworker and moved back to Israel to study at a yeshiva.

He then worked for UJIA in its education department and transferred that role to London when he moved to the capital, in 1999.

Mr Overlander-Kaye, who holds a Masters in Jewish studies from the University of Leeds, became director of education at the Union of Jewish Students and returned to UJIA in 2005 to become fundraising manager.

He moved on to the Movement for Reform Judaism, as fundraising director, in 2009, before joining ORT, just over two years ago.

While ORT UK’s focus is mainly on fundraising to support programmes in Israel, the former Soviet Union and the UK, it is also active in South and Central America, India, South Africa and central and western Europe.

In Israel, it delivers education and support to some of the most economically, socially and medically-needy children.

In the UK, ORT runs the ORT-JUMP mentoring programme, for around 250 Year 12 pupils, a bar/batmitzvah training programme, which sees young people twinned with their peers in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Kiev; and its Professional Women’s Network.

Mr Overlander-Kaye, added: “The former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, once asked, ‘will we have Jewish grandchildren?’. In the former Soviet Union, especially, it is a reverse osmosis.

“The education Jewish children receive in our schools goes back to their parents and grandparents.

“These kids understand their Jewishness and Jewish identity in a way that their parents and grandparents never did.

“It is remarkable to see a six-year-old teaching their grandmother hamotzi.”

Mr Overlander-Kaye and his wife Jessica have two children, Ayala, 10, and Eitan, seven.

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