Chayai Sara

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Jewish Life at York, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Who was Sarah? The Torah tells us the following:

And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.

וַיִּהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה׃
However, there is no summary of who the first matriarch is. Rashi comes to teach us that the odd phrasing of this verse reveals the specific character traits of Sarah. At 100 years old, she was like a 20-year-old (in terms of her sin count) and so too at 20 for a 7-year-old. At 100, she had the innocence of a 20-year-old, and at 20 the innocence of a 7-year-old. Rashi goes even further than this: all the years of Sarah were equally good. There was not a moment in her life that she faltered – she was constantly “good”.

What does this “good” mean, and how can we emulate it in our daily life? 

We see in Tehillim (Psalms) 27:3:

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and be nourished by faith.”

Rashi explains doing good here as the following: “Then you will dwell in the Land for a long time”. By this, Rashi means that doing good means living in Israel for a long period of time. 

What does goodness and the land of Israel have to do with one another? One can interpret this in many different ways, but I’m going to focus on just one.

When Sarah moved to the Land of Israel with Abraham, she was fulfilling her spiritual purpose.  More specifically, going to the Land that would be promised to the Jewish people in and of itself served to benefit all of Klal Yisrael – the entire Jewish people. When someone helps one person in the Diaspora, they’re helping that one person, but when someone helps someone in Israel, they’re helping the entirety of the Jewish people. We are all connected and affected by the good that happens in the Land, including maintaining a Jewish presence and engaging in Jewish life there. Even looking throughout Jewish history, Jews from all over the world would support poor and pious Jews living in Jerusalem. So when Sarah moved to Israel, she was actively making the decision to not just live for herself, but to start living for the entire Jewish people.  Even her name change (from Sarai, my princess, to Sarah,our princess) indicates this.

So how do we be good? To take care of others and be leaders of the Jewish people

– Noa Muscat, Hillel York JLIC Representative on Student Exec who is in her 3rd Year of Concurrent Education

Press Release: Hillel Ontario Responds to York University Update on Open and Respectful Dialogue

Press Release: Hillel Ontario Responds to York University Update on Open and Respectful Dialogue

TORONTO, ON – Today, York University President, Rhonda Lenton, published the University’s report on Open and Respectful Dialogue

The report outlines recommendations on new policies and procedures to facilitate a safer and more welcoming campus environment for all students. The recommendations are the result of a comprehensive external review conducted by former Supreme Court Justice Thomas Cromwell after a Jewish campus event was the target of violent protests on November 20, 2019. York University has accepted all of the recommendations made by Justice Cromwell.

The implementation of the recommendations will clarify student codes of conduct, and set enforceable policies and procedures around student safety, freedom of expression, and discrimination.

“Hillel Ontario welcomes the findings of the Cromwell review, and looks forward to the implementation of new policies and procedures that will enhance student life on campus,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO, Hillel Ontario. “Hillel and the Jewish student community are an integral part of the York University community. Jewish students have a right to fully express and explore their identity, including their connection to Israel, without fear of intimidation or concerns for their safety. We expect the University to uphold these new accountability measures that protect the rights of every member of the York community.

“We are extremely disappointed that the York Federation of Students, as an organization tasked with representing all students on campus, chose not to participate in the review process.”

“We commend President Rhonda Lenton for her strong stance against antisemitism and all forms of hate and discrimination, and her recognition that hatred against Jewish students is a real issue that must be tackled. Hillel Ontario and our advocacy partner, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, took an active role in the review process to ensure that the Jewish community’s voice is heard. We will continue to work collaboratively with York University to support the implementation of the recommendations. ”

As an affiliate of the largest Jewish student organization in the world, and now the largest global regional Hillel system, Hillel Ontario works to amplify Jewish campus life across nine universities, with a combined Jewish student population of over 13,000.

From more information contact:
Jaime Walman
Chief Strategy Officer
Hillel Ontario  | 647.248.2325

8 Gays of Channukah

8 Gays of Channukah

York University has been in the media a lot in recent months. Often, what gets left on the cutting room floor is the voice of students, particularly Jewish students.

I think this is what I value most about my role as LGBTQ+ engagement intern for Hillel York- that I get to speak directly for and to students, as a student myself.

In this position, I have had the pleasure of meeting dozens of queer Jews from not only York, but all nine Hillel Ontario campuses. Some are openly queer, many are not. Many have never been to a Hillel before. Regardless, I welcome the opportunity to speak to them, find out what they need to feel welcome in a Jewish space, and relay the information back. We have hosted several successful events on campus before, from games (“gay-mes”) night to screenings of LGBTQ+ Jewish films like “Call Me By Your Name.”

This process of student-led discovery and practicing “radical welcoming” is how we came up with our blockbuster December event, which drew unprecedented crowds and reached new audiences. In consultation with queer Jewish students in October, it was clear that they wanted a large party in the historic Toronto “Village” neighborhood.

So, we came up with “The 8 Gays of Channukah.”

I knew early on that I wanted to involve Hillel Ryerson and Hillel UofT in this project, because I believe that the boundaries of the Jewish community go further than the walls of one Hillel space or another. At a time of increased anxiety about antisemitism, I felt that we needed to display a united front. We dubbed ourselves “Rainbow Jews,” a tri-campus initiative to provide programming for queer Jewish students. This was a bold and necessary position for Hillel to take: queer Jews are welcome here.

Hillel was supportive from the very beginning. They helped pay our talent fairly, made changes to the poster to ensure it credited the performers to our satisfaction, and when I was worried about security at the event, reassured me they were going to do whatever it takes to keep us safe. Hillel was with us one hundred percent, listening and learning as we went.

The event, billed as a “queer Jewish variety show,” showcased eight performers who identify as Jewish and queer. From drag queens to stand up comedy to live singing (in two languages!), we really had it all. There was standing room only, and smiles from ear to ear. Performers included Twinkie LaRue, Alissa Brink, Shardona, Jordan Pines, Yan Shvartsman, Amitai Zand and yours truly in drag as Gila Münster, Richmond Hill’s premier Israeli drag star (self-proclaimed).

I could not have asked for a better way to spend the first night of Channukah than with a bar full of fellow queer Jewish students and allies in the Village. Even though my feet hurt in the tight heels I was wearing (3-inch platforms!), I knew I would remember the night forever.

Written by: Gil Segev