A Note from Marc Newburgh

by | Sep 16, 2018 | Press Release | 0 comments

Summer is winding down, and more than 400,000 Jewish students are about to return to University and College campuses across North America.

Many students will be stepping into an unfamiliar environment as they begin this new chapter in their lives. On their own for the first-time making decisions that will impact their future, they will be challenged by others to ask questions, to explore and learn. They will grow and mature as individuals and will make new friends that will last a lifetime.

Hillel staff will be there too.

Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world and Hillel Ontario is the largest regional Hillel in the global Hillel movement. We are a people to people relationship-based organization that serves and supports more than 13,000 Jewish students at 9 Universities across the province.

Our talented, passionate professionals will be there to guide and support students as they travel this journey on campus. They will help students explore their Jewish identity, understand what it means to be part of and contribute to a Jewish community, to be part of a broader campus community, and to help students take advantage of some of the wonderful opportunities that are available, such as a student leadership experience or a Birthright Israel trip. Hillel professionals will work closely with students to ensure they have a deeper understanding of Israel, its people and its complexities, feel motivated to share their experiences with their peers and are empowered to advocate for Israel on university campuses, especially on those with a prevalence of BDS and antisemitic activities.

We have learned that Jewish engagement is not dependent on the quality of the food served at social events. Effective engagement is based on the relationship built with the person who greets students when they walk in the door. Our own research has underscored how crucial this is to Hillel Ontario’s success. During strategic planning focus groups and interviews, the centrality of student relationships with Hillel campus professional emerged repeatedly. Therefore, in order to effectively fulfill our mission, we need to attract, invest in and retain high quality Jewish professionals.

Both Hillel International and Hillel Ontario have embraced the same strategic priority of investing in “Talent”. A significant shift from the historical approach taken by most Jewish organizations, we decided to shift our focus from the value of programs to the value of people. We believe that investing in the people who are engaging our Jewish students on campus will create real change and have a substantial impact. That by growing our team of dedicated professionals, we will substantially increase our capacity to meaningfully connect with students all across Ontario.

Studies show that lower staff-to-student ratios will lead to an increase in the breadth of student engagement and substantially increase our capacity to meaningful connect with and support the majority of undergraduate Jewish students.

We are thankful for the generosity of The Silber Family, as well as other donors who have joined them to support us in this work. The Silber Family is matching all donations made to support this academic year up until September 28th. Please support our students and the talented group of professionals we have assembled. I’m excited because the 2018-19 academic year will mark the first time in Hillel Ontario’s history that every one of our Hillel’s will have at least two of these professionals serving their campus communities.

Please join me in wishing all of our students and the staff who work to support them the best as they embark on the start of what I expect will be an amazing year.

Marc

Weekly D’var: Netzavim

Weekly D’var: Netzavim

This week’s parsha, Nitzavim, begins with an expression of the universality of God’s covenant with the Israelites. It wasn’t enough to say ‘all of you’ who are standing before God, rather, we are given a list of all those assembled before Moses as he instructed them before they entered the land of Israel. In this list, we see a hierarchy of social and religious significance; we are told that among those present are tribal leaders, elders, officials, men who have households, children, wives, and ‘strangers’, the servants.

Moses continues to remind the Israelites of God’s actions during their journey out of Egypt, the commandments they have been given, and the consequences of both living by and living against the conditions of the covenant. There are warnings of curses and anger and wrath and promises of blessing and sustenance and reward. This is, at its simplest, Moses’ final attempt to give the Israelites a moral compass, a sense of right and wrong in God’s eyes, as they finally cross into the land promised to their ancestors, but without Moses’ leadership.

There is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful pieces of language in the Torah towards the end of Moses’ instructions to the Israelites (Deut. 30 12-16):

[This instruction] is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I command you this day, to love your God, to walk in God’s ways, and to keep God’s commandments, God’s laws, and God’s rules, that you may thrive and increase, and that your God may bless you in the land that you are about to enter and possess.

As Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur near again, this week’s parsha is a reminder that when we are celebrating, showing humility and remorse, asking one another and God for forgiveness, we are equal. The opportunity to act righteously, care for ourselves and others around us, and enjoy prosperity is accessible and within the reach of every one of us, regardless of privilege and position, as is the opportunity near to us to turn from our misdeeds and transgressions towards goodness in the new year.

Shanah Tovah U’metuka
A Happy and Sweet 5783!

A New Hillel Home in Kingston!

A New Hillel Home in Kingston!

Kingston, ON – September 21, 2022

For 50 years, the Otterburn House in Kingston, Ontario was the home of Queen’s Hillel. Since 2018, however, Queen’s Hillel has been without a permanent location, necessitating the use of temporary rental space on-campus.

Over the past year, Beth Israel Synagogue invested in an intensive rejuvenation project to give the Otterburn House its first major update since 1992. Today, with the invaluable support of two community visionaries, we are excited to share that our Queen’s Hillel staff, Yos and Leora Tarshish, will be making the Otterburn House both their own home, and a renewed base for Queen’s Hillel. By creating a welcoming community grounded in their own lives, Yos and Leora will serve as a model for what Jewish living in all of its dimensions can be, and leverage the successful models of Base and Moishe House.

On behalf of Hillel Ontario, Chief Executive Officer, Rabbi Seth Goren said the following:

“Hillel Ontario has been striving to ensure that Queen’s Hillel once again had a space to meaningfully engage Jewish students in Kingston. Yos and Leora Tarshish have been working tirelessly to nurture strong and resilient Jewish students, build innovative micro-communities, and empower the next generation of community advocates. With the invaluable support of community philanthropists who are committed to the Kingston community, and to the future of Jewish students at Queen’s, Hillel Ontario could not be more pleased to see Hillel once again have a permanent home in Kingston.”

On behalf of Queen’s Hillel, Director, Yos Tarshish said the following:

“Leora and I are incredibly excited to be moving into the Otterburn House, and welcoming a new generation of Jewish students into a space that holds such a special place in the history of Queen’s Hillel. The space has been lovingly restored by the hard work of the Beth Israel Otterburn Committee, led by Arnie Palmer, Michael Springer, Richard Kizell and Mark Malinoff, and it is a true testament to the vigour and tenacity of the Kingston Jewish community. Jewish student life has been steadily growing in Kingston for more than a decade, and Hillel is at the forefront of ensuring that the Jewish community on campus is both vibrant and inclusive. We are honoured to engage Jewish students on campus in Kingston, and are immensely grateful for the opportunity to bring Hillel activities back to Otterburn.”

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Hillel Ontario is the largest regional Hillel in the world, serving nine universities, with a combined Jewish student population of 14,000.

For additional information, please contact:

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer
jay.solomon@hillelontario.org

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