Fort Lee woman dedicates teacher center in Israel
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Fort Lee woman dedicates teacher center in Israel

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Levin family members unveil the plaque dedicating the Teacher Empowerment Center in memory of Morton Levin. From left are his granddaughters Shachar and Sigal Shani, daughter Frayda Levy, widow Doris Levin, granddaughter Advah Shani, and great-grand daughter Maya Shani. Courtesy of ORT

Doris Levin of Fort Lee dedicated a Teacher Empowerment Center at the Rogozin Educational Campus in Kiryat Ata, Israel, last month in memory of her husband, Morton, who died in September at 86.

After her retirement two years ago, Levin began volunteering for ORT, the Organization for Rehabilitation and Training founded in Russia in 1880 and now the world’s largest Jewish education and vocational training non-governmental organization. Its network of schools, colleges, and training centers in Israel, Russia, Argentina, and other countries benefits more than 200,000 people of all ethnicities.

“When my husband passed away, I asked that any donations in his memory be made to ORT,” said Levin. “Our family made a substantial donation, and the ORT regional director suggested using it to dedicate something in his name. My husband was a staunch supporter of Israel and I knew ORT has projects in Israel, so I decided that’s where it should be.”

Given several options, Levin settled on a project sponsored by World ORT’s Kadima Mad’a (Science Journey) program, which serves thousands of Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Druze, and Bedouin students at dozens of high schools throughout Israel. The sci-tech initiative includes World ORT Teacher Empowerment Centers (WOTECs), specially designed high-tech staff rooms that feature all the equipment teachers need to prepare their lessons efficiently. In addition to individual work stations, each WOTEC is equipped with scanners, photocopiers, printers, digital cameras, Internet and Intranet connections, photo- and video-processing software, design and development software, binding equipment, and PowerPoint equipment.

The Kiryat Ata campus in the Haifa district, which encompasses 743 students in two middle schools and 1,287 students in a high school and a junior college, did not yet have a WOTEC. Levin chose this site because one of her daughters, Jackie Levin Shani, had moved to an Israeli kibbutz not far from there in 1972. (She died in 1993 of brain cancer.)

“I had memories of passing through Kiryat Ata when my grandchildren were young,” said Levin, who used to visit several times a year with her husband.

She saw for herself how needed the WOTEC was. “The teachers had to plan their lessons at home before this,” said Levin. “So it serves a good purpose.”

Local institutions also have benefited from the support of the Levin family. Morton Levin attended services every week at the New Synagogue of Fort Lee, and belonged to CAMERA: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America; AIPAC; B’nai B’rith; and the Fort Lee chapter of the Jewish War Veterans. After many years as an employee of Allied Stores, Morton Levin and his wife went into the bookstore business. Later, he joined his wife and their daughter, Mountain Lakes resident Frayda Levy, who together ran the South Hackensack distributorship Regent Book Company.

Levy accompanied her mother to Israel for the unveiling of the memorial plaque on the teacher center. Also in attendance were Levin’s Israeli granddaughters Advah, Sigal, and Shachar Shani, her son-in-law Arieh Shani, and her 3-year-old great-granddaughter Maya. Levin also has daughters in Nantucket and Toronto, and granddaughters in New York and Englewood.

“This event brought our whole family together,” said Levin.

Now vice president for public relations for the Englewood & Cliffs Chapter of ORT, which has some 350 members, Levin enjoys serving as the official photographer for ORT fund-raising events.

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