Alumni Mentorship

by | Nov 1, 2020 | Alumni, Hillel Ontario, Opportunities

Over the course of the next few months, Hillel Ontario will be launching a new initiative for Alumni. As recent Alumni of Ryerson University and McMaster University, we could not wait to get back involved with Hillel in any way that we can.

Undergraduate students, in addition to their many responsibilities pertaining to college and university, face a variety of challenges and obstacles in their pursuit to further their education and/or enter the workforce in the years following. Oftentimes, these students find it increasingly difficult to access centralized resources and connect with people who can provide guidance and assistance in these matters. Furthermore, talking to individuals closer in age, and who have been through the particular experiences only a short time before, can at times provide more accurate and thoughtful advice, as opposed to someone of more senior status. 

The Alumni Mentorship Program acts as a space offered by Hillel Ontario to provide a system of support for Jewish students across Ontario in their academic, professional, and work-related endeavours. 

The program would consist of a database featuring Hillel alumni from a wide variety of academic, social, and Jewish backgrounds. Each of these individuals have either begun working, are in grad school, or are just about to begin their professional journeys. In doing so, these alumni can each speak to unique experiences and perspectives to which undergraduate students can relate. The database would feature relevant information pertaining to the alumni involved with the program, including their: alma mater, undergraduate degree, role within Hillel while in undergrad (i.e. President, VP External, etc.), Current area of work/study, and a list of skills and expertise that they are willing to help with, such as resumé building or applying for post-graduate degree programs/jobs

Not only would the mentorship program be of great help to many students in the years to come, but it would foster a greater overall engagement of Jewish students within the Hillel community, encouraging them to connect with their Jewish peers and maintain student involvement. 

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the program will help to further unite the Jewish community in a time of physical separation. This engagement of students throughout their undergraduate years will hopefully materialize into an increased involvement within the Hillel Ontario community at large. As Hillel Ontario places immense emphasis and importance on engagement both during University, and post, this will allow Hillel to simultaneously assist undergraduate jewish students, and engage with their alumni community.

We are so excited to see this get off the ground! 

Geoffrey Handelman (‘20) and Max Librach (‘20)

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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