A Must See Film: Jojo Rabbit

by | Feb 29, 2020 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

A new film stirring up controversy is Jojo Rabbit, a satiric comedy about Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. The thought of someone making a satire about Nazi Germany is hard to fathom, and ultimately creates feelings of discomfort. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and who had family murdered in the Holocaust, I couldn’t help but wonder what my family would think about a comedic film about their horrific experiences. However, since this film was voted People’s Choice during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, I felt that it was worth seeing.

Jojo Rabbit is by far one of the best movies I have seen in 2019, and it exceeded my expectations. It is smart, heartwarming, and intense, and it provides important lessons. The film describes the wartime experiences of a 10-year-old German boy, Jojo, who is immersed in Hitler Youth and whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. Jojo idolizes Hitler and is indoctrinated by all the Nazi propaganda about Jews. When he discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish teenager, Elsa, in their home, his antisemitism slowly diminishes as he learns more about her and the horrors carried out by Nazis.

Director Taika Waititi, a Jew from New Zealand, finds that happy medium between the satirical and serious. He pokes fun at the idiocy of Hitler and the Nazis, and educates the audience about the terror that the Jewish people faced during this time.

This month marks the beginning of Holocaust Education Week across many Jewish organzations. Hillel Ontario’s nine university campuses will be hosting survivors, speakers and installations with the goal of educating the public about the Holocaust, commemorating the 6 million Jews who were senselessly murdered. I encourage you to attend these events, and hear the stories of survivors and experts. I also encourage you to see Jojo Rabbit – you will be educated and moved by Jojo’s journey from ignorance and racism to compassion and empathy.

As part of our own desire to move our campus communuties towards compassion and empathy, hundreds of Hillel students across Ontario will sign a letter to Holocaust survivors, pledging to “never forget”. This letter will be presented at Liberation75 in June 2020- a conference to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps.

Hillel is built on values of inclusivity and diversity, as well as a dedication to educating younger generations so that they remain connected to Jewish culture and community. It is important to me that we share these stories and continue these conversations with these values in mind. As Elie Wiesel said: “Only in remembering what happened to us, can the world assure that it will not happen to others.”

What does it mean to ReSync?

What does it mean to ReSync?

Last year, Hillel Ontario’s Out of Sync highlighted the incredible student talent on all nine university campuses. In addition to an audience of more than 350 community members for the event on February 1st, 2020, the fundraising campaign raised more than $150,000 to support for Jewish students across the province.

But the world has changed dramatically since then. So now, it is time to ReSync – our values, our priorities and our connections to community.

We have seen our students, staff and community members support one another and lift each other up in dark times and we know this is something to celebrate. 

From January 11th to February 7th, 2021, ReSync will highlight the stories of Jewish students across Ontario. You will have the opportunity to ReInvest in the strong Jewish campus communities and ReImagine what our programming on campus can look like. 

Here is what ReSync means to our students, Makayla and Harrison:

ReSync can mean different things to different people, but to me the word ReSync is more of a scenario then an actual definition. The scenario goes like this: you’re trying to reload a website you were on the other day and once you’re on you find out that the company has changed the website and how it works. In this case, the website is the world and we have to relearn a whole bunch of things because there is no going back to the normal we once knew. The new type of normal is going to look like people wearing masks for a long while, social distancing, and online schooling. 

We have entered a new stage in life and not the one of just getting older, but the one where staying home and not going out on the weekend isn’t looked down upon anymore. And staying away from people isn’t considered anti-social but highly encouraged. Hillel is, and has been, amazing at helping us students feel connected with one another and comfortable with this transition of a new way of learning and coping. 

ReSync has been important to me this year because it’s all about coming together and working as a team on a project, which is just another way to keep everyone connected. ReSync allows students to stay connected with staff and our peers on a different level, since we aren’t in our normal work space where students always used to hang out. Besides getting to see people coming together, not physically but virtually, the audience members should be looking forward to a night full of entertainment and enjoyment. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got!

  • Makayla Goodman, Hillel York

 

This year university life is undeniably different and poses a challenge to current and incoming university students. One of the greatest challenges for students is to develop their social lives. Prior to the pandemic, random bump-ins with other friends outside the library or yelling “HELLO!!!” across a busy concourse were welcome pleasures to my day. Unfortunately, that can no longer happen. 

ReSync for students at Hillel means to adjust, align or really resynchronize yourself with the changes. Prior to the pandemic, Hillel was always described as our University’s Jewish club with the emphasis on the social aspect. In a time when social interactions are limited and being strained, my Hillel on campus is ReSyncing from its wide-reaching regular events like weekly Bagel Lunches and monthly shabbat dinners to physical-distancing friendly Zoom events such as Shabbox, i.e., Shabbat in a box. 

While Hillel student executive teams are working hard to bring Hillel to every Jewish student no matter where they are, we are ReSyncing to engage as many students as possible through Hillel’s events. This year, ReSync is even more important so that Hillel students have sufficient funding next year to bring back our signature events and ReInvent and innovate their “never-tried before” ideas.

  • Harrison Levine, Guelph Hillel

 

Click here to meet the rest of the ReSync Team Leaders!

How Ontario’s Adoption of IHRA Affects Jewish Students on Campus

How Ontario’s Adoption of IHRA Affects Jewish Students on Campus

On October 27th, 2020, Ontario became the first province in Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, following the federal government’s adoption on June 25th, 2019 as part of Canada’s anti-racism strategy. The Government of Ontario’s adoption of IHRA is a crucial milestone in our country’s effort to combat antisemitism, and is a clear message that our representative bodies place a primacy on Jewish communal safety and wellbeing. 

The first step in equipping our institutions with the resources to effectively deal with antisemitism is providing them with the tools to properly identify it. The adoption of IHRA by the Ontario government is important for our students on Ontario campuses because it further legitimizes the adoption of this working definition in other Canadian institutional spaces, including but not limited to universities. 

As an organization, Hillel will point to this historic piece of legislation in our ongoing efforts to have IHRA adopted by university student unions and administrative bodies across the province. Not only does the adoption of IHRA at the provincial level lend credence to these initiatives on Ontario campuses, it also reminds us just how important it is to let representative Jewish groups determine the nature and causes of contemporary antisemitism. We hope to continue seeing IHRA adopted in institutional settings within the Canadian context and beyond. 

Ruth Chitiz
Advocacy Manager

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