Big donor tells all to Ort din­ner

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMUNITY - BY JOSH JACKMAN

SELF-MADE BIL­LION­AIRE Natie Kirsh told Ort UK’s din­ner that his char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties had been in­spired by Mai­monides.

The South African na­tive, who has con­trib­uted to many of the ed­u­ca­tion char­ity’s pro­grammes in 59 coun­tries, was a guest of hon­our at Tues­day’s din­ner, held at the Jumeirah Carl­ton Tower in Knights­bridge. At­tended by more than 300 supporters, it raised in ex­cess of £500,000.

His wider char­ity work has helped 14,000 peo­ple in Swazi­land to start their own busi­ness and he has pro­vided the fund­ing for 700 start-ups in Is­rael.

“I came across a say­ing by Mai­monides, which I placed in my wal­let 40 years ago, that the high­est form of tzedakah is to make a per­son self-re­liant,” the 83-year-old re­called. “It in­spired me to give peo­ple fish­ing rods rather than fish.” Si­mon Cal­low

He crit­i­cised re­li­gious in­sti­tu­tions for not preparing stu­dents for life in the tech­no­log­i­cal age, adding that Ort’s Derech pro­gramme did just that. “Yeshivah ed­u­ca­tion which only fo­cuses on re­li­gious stud­ies is not enough. Those who en­ter yeshivot at a young age and leave as young adults are ill-equipped to meet the chal­lenges of the mod­ern, com­puter-dom­i­nated world.

“This mo­ti­vated me to ini­ti­ate a pro­gramme which we called Derech to bring com­put­ers and tech­ni­cal train­ing to yeshivot.”

The other spe­cial guest was ac­tor Si­mon C al­low, who told the JC that O rt was “a very no­ble cause ”. Any

or­gan­i­sa­tion that “teaches peo­ple how to think, how to read, teaches them skills and teaches them the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting a grip on their own lives must be en­cour­aged”.

He “very strongly” con­demned cul­tural boy­cotts against Is­rael, say­ing: “I am very anx­ious about the many man­i­fes­ta­tions of an­ti­semitism that we see around us. And I’m par­tic­u­larly dis­mayed that some mem­bers of my own pro­fes­sion have banned the­atre com­pa­nies and so on sim­ply be­cause they have a cer­tain amount of sub­sidy from the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.”

Ad­dress­ing guests, Mr Cal­low said “the food has been mirac­u­lous. I shall be eat­ing kosher for the rest of my life.

“I al­ways weep when I hear songs from Fid­dler on the Roof. I’m making a case here for a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship. I’m deeply Jewish in ev­ery way — apart from ac­tu­ally be­ing Jewish.”

PHO­TOS: TIM KA­VANAGH

Natie Kirsh with Lord Young

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