5 Ways To Be a Better You In The New Year

by | Sep 14, 2018 | Hillel Ontario, Jewish Holiday | 0 comments

It’s that time of year to reflect on the past and set goals for the new year, but it’s no secret that Rosh Hashanah resolutions are often unfulfilled. This might be because the process laid out for repententance is pretty onerous, and transformation isn’t always easy.  Regardless, here are five small steps toward self-improvement you can actually stick to and may get at some of the elements of personal growth you may be looking for:

1. Connect with old friends and family so you can be a part of your community. Making an active effort to see people you didn’t see enough last year is an easy way to improve from the past and remind the people in your life how important they are. If you’re far from home, setting up a video chat or phone call can make all the difference to those who might be missing you!

2. Set aside time for hobbies. It’s easy to push our hobbies to the side when school gets hectic, but having activities to work on outside of class helps relieve a lot of studying-related stress and can help your emotional wellbeing.

3. Try new ways to get organized. Scribbling your class schedule on a piece of scrap paper may have been your way of life last year, but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to organization. Colour-coding your classes, getting an agenda from your student union or using a wall calendar can make all the difference in your student success.

4. Say thank you for the unexpected things. Thank your teachers for a thoughtful lesson, your friends for their creativity, your family for their comforting recipes and the people in your community for things they’ve done for you, big or small. It only takes a minute to send a thank you text or email, and a little positive reinforcement goes a long way!

5. Don’t forget to take breaks. Everyone needs a little vacation, and the winter holidays are a great time to get away and have some fun after the fall semester. It’s not too late to register for a Winter Birthright Israel trip! 

Most importantly, remember that resolutions for the new year are not promises – don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t save up for that new car or quit eating sugar. A resolution is something to work towards, not a promise!

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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