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
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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!

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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

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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
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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

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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.

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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