A Message from Rob Nagus, Director of Hillel UofT

by | Nov 26, 2019 | Press Release | 0 comments

Hillel U of T is deeply troubled by a motion put forward for the upcoming Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) AGM. While the SCSU has formally endorsed the BDS movement since 2013, recent actions indicate the possibility of fortifying that position and further aligning itself with the BDS movement.

This motion is problematic for two reasons.  First, in an attempt to “…reaffirm [the SCSU’s] commitment to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement…”, it personally and publicly attacks the SCSU’s VP External, Chaman Bukhari, for displaying an Israeli flag in his office, where he also displays a Palestinian flag.

In addition to this personal attack, the motion includes the following:

“Be it further resolved that, the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union refrain from engaging with organizations or participating in events that further normalizes Israeli apartheid;..”

This amounts to an institutional boycott of almost every Jewish organization, student and otherwise, and would constitute a clear example of systemic antisemitism according to the IHRA definition and alleging guilt by association against a broad swath of the campus community. In addition, this motion goes against a host of values that should be championed by universities, such as freedom of speech, freedom of association and respecting the rights of minority groups on campus.

Hillel U of T condemns this motion in the strongest possible terms and has been in touch with VP External, Chaman Bukhari, to ask how we can best support him and work together to release a joint statement at the AGM. We have also reached out to our contacts in the university administration and sent a letter to President Gertler asking him to address this discriminatory action.

We urge the University to intercede and take action to address this serious, antisemitic motion.

The upcoming AGM will be taking place Wednesday, November 27th, SY110, 5pm-9pm.

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

Blown Away

Blown Away

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of Hillel board members and lay leaders for a short presentation on Hillel’s Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF). Several students who had participated in the JLF program were on the Zoom call, as well as the Hillel staff who facilitate JLF cohorts on campus.

We were lucky to have a mini JLF experience. JLF was new to me, but as a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program, I am a massive fan of adult Jewish education. I know firsthand the kind of transformative experience it could be to CHOOSE as an adult to learn about Judaism.

To say that I was blown away is an understatement. I heard directly from students that they had approached this program with some anticipation and trepidation but ultimately walked away feeling more connected to their Judaism and to their community than they ever thought possible. I saw Rabbis approach young people with openness and care; their focus was on making their cohort understand how Judaism was relevant to today’s world, not just their grandparents’ time. I felt the emotion that came across, even over Zoom, that showed me that these young people “got it” and could internalize how Judaism could play a role in their adult lives well beyond the eight-week program.

I was touched to hear that when the students were asked to “pay it forward”, the vast majority of them did, because they wanted others to have the chance to see what they saw, feel what they felt and learn what they learned. As a lay leader, it is so important to see that my work and philanthropic contributions are touching real people and making a difference in real lives.

This small taste was enough to make me want to support this program in the future and I hope others will join me in doing so – we work hard on Jewish identity and we don’t have enough programs that actually move the needle. This one does! 

Elisa Palter

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