Laughs all round as donors raise £420,000 for Ort

By Jennifer Lipman, December 8, 2011
Question time: Vanessa Feltz and David Baddiel at the Ort gala dinner

Question time: Vanessa Feltz and David Baddiel at the Ort gala dinner

Education charity Ort celebrated its 90th anniversary in Britain this week at a gala dinner for 250 guests including the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, and writers and broadcasters, David Baddiel and Vanessa Feltz.

The event at the Great Hall in Lincoln's Inn saw £420,000 raised for Ort projects, including its 18 Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union and its work in advancing Jewish education, training and leadership in 56 countries.

The Chief Rabbi described Ort as a wonderful charity which offered many young people a connection to Judaism. "In Judaism, we believe that faith is the power to defeat probability," he said.

"I can think of no more eloquent way to show what Ort does. We are the only nation in history to predicate its survival on education. That's the Jewish value Ort is making true. Ort is teaching the world how to learn."

Comedian David Baddiel, who said he was delighted to meet the Chief Rabbi for the first time, was quizzed by Ms Feltz on his career, his film Infidel, and Jewish identity.

He reminisced about his early career, when he would perform observational comedy about "beccy girls" in Golders Green, and suggested that telling a Jewish joke was "to do it with a shrug".

Observing that all Jewish charities he has supported "have three letters - HET, CST and now ORT" he said that it was more difficult to be a British Jewish celebrity than an American one.

"There, they understand it. Here, it's basically just me and Vanessa… and Maureen Lipman. There aren't enough British Jews in the limelight."

Mr Baddiel later turned the tables and questioned Ms Feltz on her career, including her early morning BBC Radio 2 slot. She said she set her alarm each day for 3.55am, making her a "true eshet chayil - doesn't she rise at dawn?" she joked.

Simon Alberga, the chairman of British Ort, thanked guests for helping the organisation to make a difference in people's lives.

"At all of Ort's schools, we are proud to be part of the Jewish community and to educate and train youngsters so they will have a better future," he said."

Last updated: 1:20pm, December 8 2011