In the ghetto, practising a skilled trade presented one more unexpected chance  to SURVIVE Closure of ORT Spirit of ORT in the Ghettos Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum The Spirit of ORT in the ghettos Boy wearing the Star of David at a machine-tool.  LCVA
The spirit of ORT during the Holocaust In the summer of 1941 Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union. In Nazi occupied Lithuania the Holocaust had begun. However, it soon became clear that those who practised a trade had a chance to survive. When they found themselves in the ghetto, former teachers of ORT schools and courses understood this very well. They did everything they could to organise trade courses in the Vilnius and Kaunas ghettos. In the ghetto, a skilled trade guaranteed life for the whole family.  Kaunas ghetto Avraham Tory wrote in his Kaunas ghetto diary that on 13 September 1942 the Jewish Council in ghetto decided to establish a vocational school. Technical and general subjects were taught there, and young people who left school had a chance to work in German workshops. The school, which also conducted cultural activities, operated until the ghetto was liquidated in 1944. It was founded and headed by former ORT Kaunas principal Jacob Oleiski,  helped by Mendelis Sadovskis. Vilnius ghetto In the ghetto, there was a technical school and courses for teenagers and trade workshops for children. Matitjahu Schreiber, former Head of the ORT Vilnius school, established a vocational school that had sixty students. Here they acquired a trade: they were trained, according to a programme, to work glass, as joiners, in pottery, knitting, sewing and mending of military uniforms.
In the foreground: commanders of the Kaunas ghetto police; in the background, second from left: Jacob Oleiski, Head of the vocational school. Tel Aviv Beit Hatfutsot museum stocks. Oleiski survived, left for Israel after the war, and was Director of ORT Israel. He died in 1984.
Samuil Kaplinskij. VGSJM. Graduating from the ORT Vilna Technicum  in 1932, Kaplinskij had a job in the water supply system in Vilnius. At the beginning of the Second World War he was sent to the Vilnius ghetto. On the day it was liquidated, Kaplinskij led away about 150 members of the ghetto resistance organisation FPO–including future World ORT Director General Joseph Harmatz–through the water supply pipes to Rūdninkai forest. From September 1943 to July 1944 he was the commander of the partisan detachment “For Victory”. After the war, he continued working in the same water supply system in Vilnius.
Address by the work section of the Jewish Council to the ghetto male inmates: “…[there are] quite a few men who do not go to their permanent work places; many able-bodied men who avoid registering at the work section. Because of this the city is short of labour. Remember: work is a question of life or death. Your fate is in your hands.” 15 March 1942, LCVA
Students of the Kaunas Ghetto vocational school, 1942. VVGŽM. In March 1942 a vocational school for boys and a sewing school for girls were organised. Later, training in other specialities was provided.
Certificate issued at the Vilnius Ghetto, 15 October 1941. VGSJM