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

Dear Hillel Community…

Dear Hillel Community…

We are Rachel and Ori, the Hillel Laurier and Waterloo presidents of 2019/2020. As we are all aware, this year has come to an end quicker than expected, which means both our Hillel presidency terms as well as our undergraduate degrees are coming to an end. Before we leave we would like to express how we’ve felt, what we’ll miss most, and what we hope for the future.

Over the course of the four years in which we’ve lived in the city of Waterloo, the Jewish student population has grown significantly. Hillel Waterloo and Laurier hosted Shabbat dinners that had an average attendance of 30 people. In our final year we are lucky enough to say that the Shabbat dinners we host now have an average of 80 attendees, with our most popular Shabbat dinners averaging at over 100 Jewish students. We feel so honoured to have been the presidents as we worked to make Hillel thrive this past year, contributing to the community we relied so heavily on when we left our Jewish high schools. It is due to the work of our amazing executive team and, of course, our fantastic directors that we were able to get to where we are today. All of the programming and all of the smiles did not happen by accident.

We believe that the programming that Hillel Laurier and Hillel Waterloo facilitate has been a key part of the success we see today. Shabbat dinners are especially fun for everyone, but believe it or not, they are only an eighth of the programs we offer. From bonfires and cookie decorating, to Holocaust education and study rooms, all the way to arcades and board game cafes, we plan programs catering to every Jewish student. Our personal favourite is musical havdallah.

We are so thankful for the experiences we have had with Hillel and the Waterloo Jewish community over the past four years, and although we are sad to leave, we are so excited to watch the next generation of Jewish leaders as they continue building this wonderful community. As the Waterloo community continues to grow in numbers, we have such pride that each new face will be met with an atmosphere of warmth, diversity, and a love of Judaism. Although it is impossible to predict exactly what the future has in store for our community, knowing that each new year brings new people, new ideas, and new perspectives, along with the same devotion and love of community, leaves us confident that the future is bright.

We wish all the best to next year’s executive team and to the Jewish community as a whole. We miss you already.

Written By: Ori Mezuman and Rachel Goldfarb

Weekly Dvar Torah

Weekly Dvar Torah

Ki Tavo: In this week’s parsha, Ki Tavo, Moshe reminds the Jews that we are עם סגולה – am segulah typically translated as “The Chosen People.” Standing alone, the Hebrew word סגולה – segulah translates to “virtue,” defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “a behaviour showing high moral standard.”.

What do being the Chosen People and “virtue” have to do with one another? We were chosen, but acting with virtue is a choice one makes. The two seem quite different in definitive qualities, but despite their semantic differences, virtue can be seen as either a responsibility or quality of being the Chosen People.

Jews have seen themselves  as the Chosen People, and in accordance with the Peter Parker principle, great power comes with great responsibility. We have a responsibility to act as the Chosen People, to act with virtue, to act in accordance with integrity and high moral standard. We often speak of this as a קידוש השם – kiddush ha-shem an action or showing of behaviour exemplifying our expectations acting with high morality.

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at a summer camp in Peterborough, a place in which the concept of a Jew is quite foreign. Prior to every trip we took our campers on, we discussed with them the importance of making a kiddush ha-shem. While these conversations varied with each age group, the youngest of our campers appeared to be the most moved and inspired. While sitting at an ice cream store after a day of mini golf, an 8-year old camper approached me and stated that we should be careful to pick up all of our garbage before we leave “to make a kiddush ha-shem because we are am segulah!”

I wish for us all that we may find the same pride in being am segulah as the 8-year old camper, and we may always act in a virtuous manner.

– Jessica Gelbard