A Note from Marc Newburgh

by | Aug 23, 2016 | From Marc, Hillel Ontario, News | 0 comments

I’ve always been someone who loves change, believes in the need for change and gets excited about it. Change is an opportunity to start something new, to do better, and/or to create. For many, change can create anxiety. But it can also be invigorating.

The start of the academic year is a time on the calendar when things are always changing. Summer is winding down and students are heading off to University or College campuses. Many are leaving home for the first time to live on their own, meet new people, and explore new opportunities. It’s a significant time in a young adults life, and certainly one that involves change.

Hillel Ontario is heading into its first Frosh Week as, at this time last year, we didn’t exist. The organization was formed October 2015 when Hillels across the province were all brought together under one-umbrella organization. While this organizational change will enhance our ability to support Jewish students on campus, the core elements of Hillel will remain unchanged.

Hillel will always be a place for Shabbat dinners, social and cultural events, or simply a place to gather. It will always be a place where Jewish students can explore a trip to Israel, a leadership opportunity, do Jewish learning, or simply meet new friends. Hillel will always be a place where students are supported when confronted with challenges, whether personal or academic, or when confronted with anti Semitism or anti Israel activity on campus.

The start of the school year is also a significant time in the life of a parent. With their child leaving home to start this new adventure, it’s a new chapter that can be both exciting and fraught with anxiety. Hillel staff takes great pride in being accessible to parents, whether a quick email or phone call, to simply to let them now how their child is adjusting to campus life.

We encourage parents to join our new Parent Giving Circle, giving you an enhanced opportunity to invest in your child’s Jewish life on campus, be connected with other Jewish parents at your child’s school, and receive insider information about your child’s campus. Your son/daughter will receive a Hillel box of “swag” and other items, while you will receive our Parent Giving Circle newsletter and be invited to exclusive, parent-only events about Jewish campus life and how you can get involved.

As Frosh Week approaches, be assured that Hillel student leaders and staff will be out on campus ready to meet, greet and connect with both incoming and returning students. They will be available to discuss upcoming events, programs and opportunities. Look out for us when you arrive! On behalf of everyone at Hillel Ontario we wish you the best for the upcoming 2016/2017 academic year!

Written By Marc Newburgh, Hillel Ontario CEO

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

A Hillel Staff’s Perspective

Students have had a very different academic year. One that they have never experienced before. There has been isolation, lack of extracurricular activities and little to no in-person contact. In a recent McMaster Hillel student executive meeting on zoom, I said “we are in the business of community so we need to think creatively about what it feels like to be part of this community. ” How does one do this in a pandemic, when campus is closed and when we don’t see each other at all? How do we know how each of us are doing? Are we alone? Are we lonely? Are we coping? Do we bring our best selves to a Zoom and then grapple alone with our worries? These are the questions that I struggle with when trying to support a community despite the challenges that exist for us. 

From the beginning, Hillel pulled out all the pandemic stops to connect with students. Shabbat in a box and delivered to you? Yes! Zoom games night? Yes! Mental health and wellness box? Sign up here! We have you covered. These programs and services were created to keep our community together while at our own homes. We are able to connect through a screen and eat dinner, not together, but knowing that there were over 70 students enjoying the same meal in the comfort of their own homes as well. And we connected face to face over Zoom before and after, while enjoying our rugelach, of course!

All of these programs are great, but the individual connections are even more paramount. A text to a student to check in, a happy birthday wish on their special day or an unfortunate condolence call for those who have lost loved ones. For me, it’s putting in the extra effort to make a student feel special and finding ways to do this. Does the student have dietary needs that we can fulfill and can we make this student feel seen in making a special box for them? Did a student forget to sign up for Shabbat but do we have an extra meal for them anyway? Can we put an extra dessert in a bag, just because we know that student had a tough week? Even though we are in Hamilton, can we make an extra effort so our Toronto or out-of-province students also feel a part of our community and send them mailings and deliveries so that they feel part of our programming? Having inclusive programming is a cornerstone of Hillel’s mandate. In a pandemic, even more so. 

I miss seeing the students. I miss hanging out in the Hillel office and chatting over a bagel and cracking jokes over the lineup at the toaster. I miss bumping into students on campus, catching up on their lives, and being part of a place where they come for comfort and support (and food!).    With all the programming and outreach we have done in the past 10 months, I hope that we can continue to maintain our virtual community. That even though we are not in person, our students know we are still here for them. While the medium may have changed, the sentiment certainly has not.

 

 

 

 


Judith Dworkin,
Director, McMaster Hillel

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario welcomes University of Toronto’s recent launch of a new Anti-Semitism Working Group. The Working Group will review programming, activities, processes, and practices in place at the University of Toronto’s three campuses and develop recommendations to support the University’s response to antisemitism.

“The establishment of a working group focused on antisemitism is a much-needed measure for the University of Toronto,” said Rob Nagus, Senior Director, Hillel UofT. “Too often, Jewish students who have faced antisemitism on campus have felt that their serious concerns around anti-Jewish hate were dismissed. Given the positive impact of recent anti-racism initiatives on the campus community, it is incumbent on our institutions to also address the unique challenges inherent to combating antisemitism.”

“Across the nine campuses we serve, Hillel Ontario is committed to working with all university administrations to champion the voices of Jewish students,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO, Hillel Ontario. “We look forward to supporting the work of the University of Toronto by ensuring these voices are heard and acknowledged. Doing so will help the Working Group better understand how contemporary antisemitism manifests on campus.”

X