Confessions of a Springboard Fellow

by | Feb 7, 2019 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Written by Tamar Patolsky , Springboard Fellow

I always knew that I wanted to have a profession that was meaningful. However, during my final year of undergrad, I was still unsure of what that would look like. Even though I was very involved with the Jewish community on campus, it never occurred to me that there was a possibility of having a career in it. I didn’t have a degree in Education, nor in Jewish Studies.

One of my Hillel’s campus staff noticed my passion for the Jewish community and highly recommended that I apply for the Springboard Fellowship and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Let me tell you all about my life being the Springboard Fellow at Hillel Waterloo and Laurier.

My introduction to the Hillel professional world was eye opening! Shortly after arriving on campus, I was provided with an abundance of opportunities to learn, grow and deepen my professional competencies. These varied from learning sessions, to staff training days, to the availability of valuable resources.

Hillel sees the Springboard Fellowship as an opportunity to invest in young professionals as an asset to the organization. From the very start of my fellowship, I was provided with numerous incredible mentors. They have all been extremely helpful throughout my growth and professional development, supporting me along the way. They have answered every question, talked about program development, and provided me with career coaching.  

Springboard encourages us to use our talents.  For example, I combined my passion for art and Jewish content to create a successful Chanukkah Paint night. I have been able to utilize my Russian background to help create programs that reach out to these cultural niche communities on campus.

The best part of my job, hands-down, is the satisfaction of positively impacting the future of the Jewish community. I interact with brilliant students that challenge and inspire me daily. Springboard gave me the opportunity to be part of their Jewish journeys, as they grow into the future leaders of the Jewish community.

The Springboard Fellowship has been a completely transformative experience for me. The knowledge and skills that I have gained will be valuable throughout the rest of my life. I have found my calling; my work is full of purpose, meaning and reward. I absolutely love my job, and you could too! Springboard Fellowships I Hillel International Springboard Fellowship

 

Fall Semester Student Survey Results

Fall Semester Student Survey Results

Undergraduate and graduate students completed our survey this month to let us know how we can best support them in the very unique, upcoming academic year. Here’s what we found:

Total respondents: 458
Total respondents by academic year:

Most schools have said they will have a “hybrid” model of learning in the Fall. Where will our students be living?

If Hillel was to offer any in-person opportunities, here are the top precautions that would make students feel most comfortable participating:

    • Enhanced cleaning of all spaces
    • Providing hand sanitizer
    • Ensuring that physical distancing is maintained
    • Limiting the number of people according to the provincial gathering restriction at any given time
    • Completing a sign-in list for the purposes of contact tracing

Students’ greatest fears for the upcoming year:

    • Uncertainty about the quality of an online educational environment
    • Feeling isolated from my friends/community
    • Zoom fatigue

Top 5 programs and interests that our students are most interested in for the upcoming year:

    • Holocaust Education
    • Social Events
    • Volunteering Opportunities
    • Israel
    • Mental Health & Wellness

What else can Hillel do to support Jewish students across the province?

    • Hybrid of virtual and in-person programming
    • Checking in with students
    • Keeping students in the loop when Hillel doors plan to open
    • More support for mental health, including more in-person events (if possible), webinars with mental health professionals, fun programming to look forward to.
    • Casual social events to replicate the feeling of being in Hillel spaces
    • Ensuing first-year students find connections, even virtually
    • Providing a sense of community, fun, and normalcy during this time
No Silence on Race – Hillel Ontario Statement of Support

No Silence on Race – Hillel Ontario Statement of Support

Hillel Ontario is proud to be a signatory to No Silence on Race. We endorse the letter’s aims of dismantling racism in Jewish communities and welcome its outline of nine pillars as a guide for our efforts.

Our organizational vision is an Ontario where every Jewish student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel Ontario takes the word “every” seriously; our vision demands virtual and physical spaces that intentionally welcome Black, Mizrachi, Sefardi, and Indigenous Jews and Jews of Colour and celebrate all Jewish identities. Indeed, the Hillel Ontario we envision is based in a community that enthusiastically reflects a full spectrum of Jewish diversity.

We acknowledge both that we have work to do in this area and the importance of committing to concrete action. Inspired by No Silence on Race, we commit to the following:

  • Adopting a listening posture so we can better understand the experiences of BIPOC, Mizrachi, and Sefardi Jews;
  • Inviting, but not requiring, the BIPOC individuals among our staff, lay leadership, and students to be part of our efforts to learn and grow as an organization;
  • Examining recruitment and hiring practices to bolster BIPOC representation among staff (including campus and organizational leadership) and lay leaders;
  • Launching educational content, training, and learning for staff, students, and other stakeholders on issues of racial justice, implicit bias, power, and privilege, among other topics;
  • Strengthening and leveraging our relationships with campus diversity offices to provide training for our students and staff and to better serve as allies to all BIPOC members of our campus communities;
  • Recognizing the emotional labour that goes into BIPOC individuals contributing to our organization’s betterment and ensuring that they are appropriately compensated;
  • Redoubling our efforts to enhance programming for and about BIPOC Jews;
  • Reaching out to other Jewish organizations engaging in their own efforts in this sphere with an eye toward convening representatives and forming a collaborative working group for mutual support, direction, and accountability;
  • Developing a multi-faceted plan for cultivating diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; and
  • Exploring the best way to advance this work internally and hold ourselves accountable, including the possibility of assembling a Hillel Ontario task force to learn about, investigate, and respond to racial injustice, implicit bias, power, and privilege.

The tenth century midrash Tanna Debei Eliezer cites G-d as asking and directing the Jewish people in part, “My children, there is nothing I lack that you could provide me. What do I ask of you? Only that you love each other, respect each other, and have reverence for each other.” In seeking to create a more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable Jewish community, we embrace the sentiment behind No Silence on Race and look forward to future progress toward a truer expression of klal yisrael, the unity of the entire Jewish people.

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