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

 

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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