8 Miracles Of 2016 Help Us Remember The Miracle Of Channukah

by | Nov 25, 2016 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario, Jewish Holiday | 0 comments

Channukah is around the corner. We light the menorah with its eight candles every night of the holiday to remember the great miracle that happened after the battle against the Greeks. The Holy temple was destroyed and all that was found was a small amount of oil that would only provide light for one day. Instead of lasting one day, it lasted for full eight days.


While we don’t usually experience such miracles today, there were definitely some miraculous events that happened in 2016.


  1. For the first time in American history, a woman secured a presidential nomination from one of the two major political parties.

    © Huffington Post


  2. Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar! After being nominated for a total of seven Oscars, Leo finally won his first Academy Award for his acting in The Revenant this year.

    © www.variety.com/2016/film/news/leonardo-dicaprio-oscar-speech-climate-change-1201717970/


  3. The Chicago Cubs finally overcame their 71-year curse to win the World Series.

    © www.thecomeback.com


  4. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked this year at the Toronto Pride Parade. As the first Prime Minister to ever walk at a Prime Parade, Trudeau will hopefully have a positive impact on the future of LGBTQ communities.

    © www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/07/03/justin-trudeau-black-lives-matter-kick-off-toronto-pride-parade.html


  5. Partly thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, scientists were able to find the gene linked to ALS. This brings them a step closer to finding a cure.

    © www.eonline.com


  6. This year, a new treatment for skin cancer was found. It has been shown to increase the survival rates of melanoma patients by 40%.

    © www.orogoldschool.com/news/top-skin-care-questions-answered/


  7. The first plane circled our planet without using a drop of fuel! It was 100% solar powered. The two pilots of the plane predict that within the next 10 years, all commercial flights will be solar powered. If this is true, it will be a great relief for our environment!

    © www.finance.yahoo.com/news/david-pogue-solar-impulse-000000088.html


  8. We had a very mild winter, a hot summer, and a long, beautiful fall.


    © www.everythingzoomer.com

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