5 Things to do over Reading Week (In Addition to Reading!)

by | Feb 14, 2019 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Although Reading Week is the best time to catch up on all your coursework and prepare for midterms, it’s also time for you to unwind and relax because you deserve it! After months of hard work, it’s easy to get carried away with school and focus less on yourself. Make this Reading Week all about balance.  Here are our top five suggestions of things you can do to de-stress this week.

GET OUT AND EXPLORE
via GIPHY

Spending hours upon hours in a classroom or in the library can be tiresome. The best way to totally unwind? Take a mini vacation! Something as simple as a day or two in Niagara Falls would do the trick. If you like to ski or snowboard, find some friends and rent an Airbnb at Blue Mountain. If you’re not into leaving your hometown, find something fun to do on Groupon! From a spa day to go-karting, you are sure to find something you like.

BINGE A NEW SERIES!

via GIPHY

So many new Netflix series, so little time! If you have never sat in bed for hours binge watching a TV show with popcorn in hand, now is the time to try it. Our favourite though? The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel! Set in 1950s Manhattan, the show follows Midge Maisel, a young Jewish, recently separated mother of two, as she pursues her passion for a career as a comedian.  This award winning show is absolutely hilarious. You may even want to watch it with your bubbie. You’ll thank us later.We asked the Hillel Ontario staff what they thought were binge worthy shows, and here’s our list!

  1. YOU
  2. Glitch
  3. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  4. Salt Fat Acid Heat
  5. Chef’s Table
  6. Big Mouth
  7. The Good Place
  8. Ozark  

BRING OUT THE BOARD GAMES

 via GIPHY

When you are busy with school, a quick text or like is sometimes all you can manage. Unplug during Reading Week and bring everyone together for a fun games night at your place. Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, and Life are classics, and sure to be crowd pleasers. If you don’t want to have the hassle of hosting at your place, unleash your competitive side and unwind with a hot drink or a glass of wine at Snakes and Lattes. You can’t go wrong.

MAKE A PLAYLIST
via GIPHY

Remember our Out of Sync Spotify playlist? It had all the best hits to make you get up and sing your heart out. With midterms coming up, make a playlist to help you get in the study zone. Spotify has great pre-made playlist, but we recommend making your own. A few of our favourite artists that we like to play in the office while we work are Ed Sheeran, John Mayer and James Bay.

REGISTER FOR BIRTHRIGHT

 via GIPHY

While having the cold winter air hit you in the face while shovelling your driveway, you’re bound to start dreaming about warmer days.  Put those winter blues away and start thinking about summer vacation! How about a free trip to Israel? If you haven’t registered for Birthright yet, what are you waiting for? The trip will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. You will be immersed in Israel’s history and culture, while also trying delicious Israeli food, learning about Judaism, and making friendships that  will last a lifetime.

Jews of India

Jews of India

On January 28th, I was proud to host a panel discussion on the history and culture of the Jewish communities of India with 40 guests and about 80 listeners. I was inspired to put the program together by the thoughtful Sephardi, Mizrahi, Ethiopian, Bukhari and yes, Indian Jews on social media who advocate for their community’s representation within large Jewish institutions. 

For most of my life, ‘Jewish cultural programming’ has been synonymous with either Ashkenazi or Israeli culture, to the detriment of my understanding of our people’s beautiful diversity. Working at the University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre, I realized I could use the platform I was responsible for to uplift these lesser-heard Jewish voices. I settled on Indian Jewry, as opposed to Ethiopian or Bukhari or Kai Feng Jews, out of interest in the origin story of their people: a ship fleeing war in Judea wrecks off the coast of Mumbai, where a dozen survivors reconstitute their culture in a strange land, isolated from world Jewry for hundreds of years.

We had four speakers. Dr Shalva Weil, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Ann Samson, a historian and leader of Toronto’s Indian-Jewish synagogue; Judith Dworkin, an Indian Jewish educator raised in Toronto’s Indian-Jewish community and Director of McMaster Hillel; and Anna Rajagopal, a young Indian Jewish writer and activist from the United States, who is a prominent social media personality for Jews of Colour. 

The program was phenomenal. We had nearly 100 guests, and many questions for our speakers. All of the speakers enjoyed their time and are eager to come back for any future programs. It was equal parts fascinating and touching to hear these four people describe their relationships with ashkenormativity, diaspora, and most importantly, their own culture.

Jacob Kates Rose, Hillel UofT

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

Students have had a very different academic year. One that they have never experienced before. There has been isolation, lack of extracurricular activities and little to no in-person contact. In a recent McMaster Hillel student executive meeting on zoom, I said “we are in the business of community so we need to think creatively about what it feels like to be part of this community. ” How does one do this in a pandemic, when campus is closed and when we don’t see each other at all? How do we know how each of us are doing? Are we alone? Are we lonely? Are we coping? Do we bring our best selves to a Zoom and then grapple alone with our worries? These are the questions that I struggle with when trying to support a community despite the challenges that exist for us. 

From the beginning, Hillel pulled out all the pandemic stops to connect with students. Shabbat in a box and delivered to you? Yes! Zoom games night? Yes! Mental health and wellness box? Sign up here! We have you covered. These programs and services were created to keep our community together while at our own homes. We are able to connect through a screen and eat dinner, not together, but knowing that there were over 70 students enjoying the same meal in the comfort of their own homes as well. And we connected face to face over Zoom before and after, while enjoying our rugelach, of course!

All of these programs are great, but the individual connections are even more paramount. A text to a student to check in, a happy birthday wish on their special day or an unfortunate condolence call for those who have lost loved ones. For me, it’s putting in the extra effort to make a student feel special and finding ways to do this. Does the student have dietary needs that we can fulfill and can we make this student feel seen in making a special box for them? Did a student forget to sign up for Shabbat but do we have an extra meal for them anyway? Can we put an extra dessert in a bag, just because we know that student had a tough week? Even though we are in Hamilton, can we make an extra effort so our Toronto or out-of-province students also feel a part of our community and send them mailings and deliveries so that they feel part of our programming? Having inclusive programming is a cornerstone of Hillel’s mandate. In a pandemic, even more so. 

I miss seeing the students. I miss hanging out in the Hillel office and chatting over a bagel and cracking jokes over the lineup at the toaster. I miss bumping into students on campus, catching up on their lives, and being part of a place where they come for comfort and support (and food!).    With all the programming and outreach we have done in the past 10 months, I hope that we can continue to maintain our virtual community. That even though we are not in person, our students know we are still here for them. While the medium may have changed, the sentiment certainly has not.

 

 

 

 


Judith Dworkin,
Director, McMaster Hillel

X