3 Important Messages in Netta’s Toy

by | Nov 15, 2018 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

The winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest “Toy”,  by Netta Barzilai, is a powerful song that will make anyone stop what they are doing and pay attention. Netta conquered the world with a song that is sticky, fun, interesting, and totally different. But the song is not just you average top 40 hit. The Israeli artist is using it to spread important and powerful messages that the audience may not catch the first time they listen. With punchy lyrics and strong visuals, Netta expresses her thoughts on the #MeToo movement and fights back against today’s beauty standards and stereotypes.

 

It Raises Awareness Of Sexual Harassment

Netta has made many statements confirming that her up-beat song is meant to support the #MeToo movement. Netta is a strong advocate for raising awareness of victims of sexual harassment, and gender inequality. In “Toy”, she uses terms like “stupid boy”, and “chicken” to describe the cowardly behaviour of  abusive men that continues in our society.

 

It Encourages Women To Speak Out

“Toy” aims to empower women with references to Wonder Woman, and by encouraging them to understand their own worth and to speak up for themselves. An example is the line: “The Barbie’s got something to say…” implying that women are not just iconic dolls with no voice but need to speak up for themselves.  Another powerful line is “I don’t care ‘bout your Stefa baby”. As Netta explains during an official Eurovision Song Contest interview the slang word “Stefa” is a term used to describe a pile of cash. By telling the world not to care about a man’s’ “Stefa”, Netta empowers women to free themselves from financial dependence and take charge of their own life.

 

It Fights Body Shaming and Societal Beauty Standards

Netta was quoted, saying that in the early stages of her career she was told to “dress like [she has] nothing to celebrate. Dress in black. Dress big. Short skirts are not for [her]. Short sleeves are not for [her]. [She’s] not sexy or beautiful. [She’s] funny – that’s what [she is].” But that was not how Netta saw herself. She wants to be part of today’s pop culture, and her music to reflect who she really is. Netta decided to break the stereotype that  “pop stars have to be thin and beautiful” which she does by wearing bright colors, fun hairstyles, and making funny noises. You can find this reflected in the lyrics of “Toy”, when Netta opens the song with the powerful line: “Look at me, I’m a beautiful creature”. (Source)

Now Netta is coming to Toronto to deliver her powerful message in person. On January 24th, Hillel Ontario is proud to host Netta’s first live performance in Canada during Out of Sync! If you haven’t bought your tickets already be sure to buy them today at www.outofsync.ca/tickets – See you there!

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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