ORT Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Jewish Gymnasium

A Jewish school in Vilnius was established in 1989, after the declaration of Lithuania’s national independence. Initially, it functioned as a Sunday school, where members of the Jewish community learned Hebrew, Yiddish, Jewish tradition and Jewish history. At the start, the school served 14 young people and 33 adults.

In later years, it became a secondary school, and in 1998 the Heftsiba program was introduced, in cooperation with the Israeli government. Under this program, Israeli teachers come to the school on an annual basis to teach Hebrew and organise informal educational Jewish activities.

An ORT Technology Centre was installed in 2002, providing an up-to-date computer lab, a photography lab and a server room. In more recent years, World ORT has provided interactive whiteboards for the school and a cutting-edge NOVA 5000 computer lab for science teaching.

In February, 2013, Vilnius ORT School was accredited as a Gymnasium and was renamed Vilnius Sholom Aleichem ORT Gymnasium School. In 2015 a new Gymnasium building in the center of Vilnius was added to the school; it was completely reconstructed and re-equipped at the costs of the state and World ORT.

Name of SchoolVilnius Sholom Aleichem ORT Gymnasium School
LocationVilnius/Lithuania
Age rangeElementary, Junior High, High School
Students352
Teachers35

In addition to teaching the regular state curriculum, the school offers advanced study in two tracks: Jewish education and technology education.

Jewish education

Jewish education is a pedagogical priority for the school.  All school activities aim to explore and deepen knowledge of Jewish traditions, culture, history and Hebrew.

Hebrew is studied from the 1st through to the 12th grade for 3 or 4 hours per week. The school was one of the first to introduce the new Tal AM program as its learning framework. It hosts demonstration lessons and training seminars for teachers from other schools. In addition, Tal AM program managers evaluate the students’ progress in their Hebrew studies.

School life is inseparably linked with the Jewish calendar. This course is taught from the 1st through to the 11th grade for 1 hour per week. The Chief Rabbi of Lithuania often comes to talk at the school.

This course is taught from the 5th to the 11th grade for 1 hour per week. The school works on a number of joint projects with the State Commission for the Study of Holocaust Victims and Repression, and also cooperates with the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum. Students take part each year in Masa Shorashim.

This course is taught within the general 9th grade Geography course. Students prepare a variety of projects, such as a “Journey through Israeli Cities”.

Jewish literature is integrated into the teaching of Lithuanian literature and is also combined with Hebrew and Russian language study. Students become familiar with the work of classic and modern Jewish authors.

Informal Jewish Education

  • Students take part in an annual Tanach Olympiad in Israel and Hebrew Olympiads in the Baltic.
  • Jewish culture is studied during music and art lessons. The school also organizes exhibitions of contemporary Jewish Lithuanian artists.
  • “Simcha” is the school's popular student folk and dance ensemble, which has a repertoire of Hebrew and Yiddish songs, together with folk and modern Israeli dancing.
  • Students participate – together with their families – in school Shabbatonim.
  • The School is a partner of the Jewish community of Lithuania.  As a result, all Jewish holidays are marked together with the Jewish community, and pupils work as youth leaders on camps.

Technology education

Informatics

  • Students in the 5th grade learn how to operate a computer, to draw using Paint, to create and print simple text documents, and to work with information on the Internet.
  • Students in 6th grade learn how to create more advanced text documents – incorporating graphics, symbols and tables. They learn to work with electronic files, to use e-mail and to program using Lego.
  • Students in 7th and 8th grade learn to create tables in Microsoft Excel and produce presentations in Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • Students in 9th grade study the functional workings of a computer, work with more complex tools in the software they have previously learnt about, and can take an optional course on the basics of photography, video art and publishing technologies.
  • Students in 10th grade study the basics of graphic design and the basics of programming – using “Free Pascal” and “C++”.
  • Students in 11th and 12th grade further develop their programming skills, as well as considering social and ethical issues related to information usage.
  • Robotics curriculum was successfully implemented in 2011-12, providing 4 hours of tuition per week to students in 7th to 10thgrade. Students learn the basics of electronics, electronic circuit design and programming in high-tech languages. The school works closely on robotics with the Technion University of Haifa. Robotics teams successfully participate at Robotics Festival-Competitions among other students and teachers of ORT network schools in the CIS and Baltic countries.
Lithuania President visits school

Contributions to the National Education System

The achievements of the Gymnasium's students, its modern equipment and progressive values has put the school in place among the best schools of Lithuania. ORT Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Gymnasium School became a subject of interest for the President of Lithuania, who visited as alongside the city Mayor, members of government, and educational authorities.

ORT Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Gymnasium School cooperates with the Ministry of Education of Lithuania and other education authorities and establishments, such as the Institute of Teacher Training, the Exam Centre of Lithuania, and the Pedagogical University of Lithuania. Teachers from ORT Vilnius Sholom Aleichem Gymnasium School train teachers from across the city in using interactive whiteboards and NOVA-5000 equipment in the classroom.

A School Tolerance Centre has been housed in the school for many years, it familiarises children from other schools with Jewish traditions and culture, and gives presentations on tolerance to other schools in the city.