Be Part of Our Story

by | Apr 18, 2019 | Hillel Ontario, Jewish Holiday | 0 comments

Sadly, anti-Jewish sentiment isn’t new. As the Passover Haggadah tells us, each generation in history witnesses actions against the Jewish people, with our continuing existence serving as testimony to our resilience and communal strength.

Just as Pharaoh in the Passover story took action against our ancestors, some have carried this legacy of bigotry and intolerance into the present day. Today, Hillel Ontario confronts BDS, antisemitism, and anti-Zionism head on and proactively responds to forces that would make campuses unwelcome and unsafe spaces for Jewish students.

Midrash tells us that deliverance and liberation from Egypt were a communal experience, but that the actions of one person made it possible: when the Israelites were hemmed in by the Egyptian army on the shore of the Red Sea, the waters did not part for them to pass until Nachshon ben Aminadav waded in up to his nose, demonstrating with faith and confidence that a better future was possible.

The Schwartz/Reisman Foundation believes that this better future is possible, which is why they invested in Hillel Ontario’s new advocacy strategy and think you should too. While the Passover story centres on Moses and the essential role he played, smaller individual contributions, like those of Nachshon, are similarly significant. As we head into the re-telling of the story, the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation invites you to play a significant role by helping to ensure that Ontario’s university campuses remain welcoming for everyone.

In honour of Passover and the story we want to be able to tell, we will match your advocacy gift from the Schwartz/Reisman funds, dollar for dollar, until April 30, 2019. As the only Jewish organization that is on campus every single day, your gift will bolster Hillel’s mandate to support Jewish students who may need to fight antisemitism and oppose those who demonize Israel.

Wishing you and your family and community a happy, healthy, and safe Passover holiday.

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Last month Hillel Ontario heard from Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada. After winning the leadership race back in October of 2020, Annamie became the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal Canadian political party. Since then, she has been speaking to Canadians all across the country, spreading messages of hope and inspiration, during a time where these moments are a rarity. No matter the political orientation of the Zoom attendees of this fireside chat, everyone walked away with a few life lessons up their sleeve.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways. First, Annamie spoke about following your passion, a message that I know many students needed to hear. When I graduated from grade 12, I was constantly asked where I saw myself in five years, ten years, and sometimes even twenty years. Although I was asked with the best intentions, I’ve always felt overwhelming pressure to envision a clear career path. Annamie dispelled this myth by referencing the enjoyment associated with the process of discovering your passion rather than having a final goal in mind, and Annamie’s enthusiasm for human rights through a policy lens has shaped the course of her life. Second, Annamie spoke about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice. Whether you consider yourself an advocate or not, Annamie highlighted the need to follow your moral compass, never remaining complicit. Following Annamie’s time as the leader of the Green Party, it is clear that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and position to shine light on racism, antisemitism, and sexism. These are two lessons I think everyone can learn from.

Annamie spoke about growing up in Toronto Centre (the riding where she will be running in the next federal election), her career as an international lawyer, and her decision to enter politics. As someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician, Annamie referenced about the challenges that she’s faced as a Black, Jewish woman. Racism, antisemitism, and sexism were all constant throughout her leadership campaign, and her six months leading the Green Party. 

Throughout Annamie’s talk, I learned about the importance of elevating voices that have previously gone unheard. In a predominantly white space, Hillel students and staff need to work hard to ensure that Jews of Colour feel welcomed. 

After 45 minutes, the latter half of which consisted of an insightful Q&A, Annamie mentioned that she would love to be invited back to another Hillel Ontario fireside chat. For now, I’ll take Annamie’s lessons with me while looking forward to hearing about all of her accomplishments in a year from now.

  • Skylar Banks, Guelph Hillel
Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

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