An Update from our CEO Re-Opening our Spaces

by | Aug 31, 2020 | From Marc, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

I hope you are enjoying these summer months and staying safe and healthy.

You read in my previous blog, that when our students return to class this fall they will find a newly restructured Hillel. And so now that Universities across the province have shared their plans to reopen, I’d like to share an update on how we at Hillel Ontario are thinking about our students and our staff, and how we’re planning for the start of the academic year.

It really can’t be said enough—the health of our students, and the health of our staff, are our priority. And every decision we make as we address our operations will be made through that lens. We want to be sure the approach we’re taking is thoughtful, and that we’re creating a Hillel environment that’s safe for everyone.

Our Hillel spaces won’t open all at once, we’re going to take a phased approach, only reopening when: 

  •   we are allowed to do so based on guidelines set by provincial and municipal governments;
  •   we are aligned with plans that have been formalized by our university partners
  •   we’re prepared with the right safety measures and protocols; and
  •   we have confidence we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and our staff.

When we do reopen, more than anything we want to ensure our students and staff are safe, and that they feel comfortable. We’re therefore making updates to the way in which we operate and support our students to help keep everyone healthy. Some of those updates include:

  •   conducting health screenings for our staff;
  •   providing face coverings for staff and students
  •   taking steps to allow for social distancing of two meters or more, which may have to include limiting the number of staff and students in our space;
  •   increasing cleaning and sanitization;
  •   pausing or adapting various programs and events; and
  •   altering hours of operation, as may be necessary.

You can learn more about our approach, details on how we’re ensuring a safe environment, and ways we’re supporting our students, staff, and communities on our website. We’ll also post details on social media relative to each individual campus.

Should you wish to speak to a member of our team please email administrator@hillelontario.org. 

Stay safe and healthy,
Marc Newburgh, 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.”

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