Jacob Oleiski ORT Kaunas principal ORT Kaunas A Modern Vocational School Teachers and Students Jacob Oleiski Tailors’ Courses Vocational School Craft Courses
Jacob Oleiski was a devoted Zionist and did not conceal it. After German death camps and family tragedy, he set up the ORT school in the Landsberg displaced persons (DP) camp and was a leading figure in World ORT‘s programme in the DP camps. He then arrived in Israel already seriously ill but undertook the development of the ORT school network there with great energy. Working as the Director General of ORT Israel he was responsible for a sharp increase in numbers of both schools and students within the ORT Israel network. Oleiski died at the age of 80 still holding his posts as member of the governing bodies of ORT Israel and World ORT. Interestingly, he was succeeded as Director General by fellow Litvak and partisan, Joseph Harmatz, who later became Director General of World ORT (1980- 1993).
For me, Oleiski was and remains the symbol of creativity, of the achievements of ORT in Israel, the wise man who thinks deeply, with a keen intelligence and a particular sense of justice and righteousness. I first met him when I was a child in Lithuania. He was a friend of my parents and used to stay in our home when he came to our village on missions for ORT. I can picture him: handsome, enigmatic, full of energy, strangely dressed and unconcerned about his appearance. My parents used to say: “Oleiski should be helped. He saves orphans”. After his Aliyah, he lived for some time with us in Tel Aviv.’ From ‘In Memoriam of the late Jacob Oleiski by Joseph Harmatz’– in ORT – the magazine of the World ORT Union, Vol. 1, No. 3, May 1981. World ORT Archive
Jacob Oleiski (born in 1899) was Kaunas [Kovno] ORT school principal from 1929. Besides being its principal, he worked as a teacher not only at the school, but in different craft courses as well. During the Second World War he established a vocational school in Kaunas ghetto. After the war he emigrated to Israel, where he became the head of ORT Israel.
Joseph Harmatz (born in Rokiškis, 1925). Escaped from the Vilnius ghetto to join the partisans in the forests; served as Director General of ORT Israel (1967–1980); and Director General of World ORT (1980–1993).
Jacob Oleiski’s notice stating his consent to be a member of the ORT school board, 29 March 1937. LCVA
A student perspective ON JACOB OLEISKI   “Oleiski was in his early thirties. He looked very well – tall, with an athlete’s figure, a fine head of black hair; he had very good enunciation. He wore a well-tailored grey striped suit; spoke calmly, did not wave his arms. His manners did not give out that not long ago he attended yeshiva at the small town of Šakiai. He had studied abroad, had a diploma in agronomy.” “We had very good pedagogues of practical and general subjects. Director Jacob Oleiski gave lectures on natural sciences and the history of the Jews. As no one else he knew how to stimulate our imagination.”
ON IZRAELIS ALTERIS NOMBERGAS   “Engineer mechanic Izraelis Nombergas headed the main practical courses. Exceptionally exacting, he was a very good worker, a clever pedagogue. He did a lot to make us learn his subject as well as possible. There was only one bad thing about Nombergas: he was unpleasant and very difficult to get on with. He simply did not know how to speak with people and not to shout at them. All teachers too, were very afraid of him and would simply try to avoid him.” W. Vilensky. Twists of fate: A Book of Memoirs. Jerusalem,1986 World ORT Archive
Young Jewish people should have a speciality so that they could earn their living. ORT Kaunas vocational school Director Jacob Oleiski
Participants of the second mechanical and metalworking courses organised for Jewish refugees from Germany, Kaunas, 1933–1934.
ORT Kaunas vocational school students with Director Jacob Oleiski and teacher Izraelis Alteris Nombergas, Kaunas [Kovno], 1937. World ORT Archive