Dear First Year Me

by | Aug 31, 2017 | Fun, Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Dear First Year Shira, Here are 10 things you should know upon entering your first year of university:

  1. The meal plan is your friend BUT pizza does not make for a balanced diet, especially when it is eaten 3 meals a day.
  2. Meet with Profs – they have the most incredible knowledge that they want to share!
  3. DON’T SKIP CLASS It is a slippery slope!
  4. Get involved with clubs – this is the best way to make friends with those who have similar interests to you! University is BIG – and meeting people can be hard – this is a quick way to make new friends AND do something you love and are passionate about!
  5. Do a thesis – find a topic you love and explore it in depth. With the help of your supervisor, you will think in new ways and gain skills that will help you in future academic and non-academic pursuits!
  6. ENJOY THE PROCESS – it is not ONLY about the piece of paper at the end but also about the experiences you have and will share with those around you!
  7. LET YOUR GUARD DOWN – this is the time to try new things and realize who you really are – focus on building your strengths! You have something special to contribute and the next four years will be your journey to help you find out what that is!
  8. Be a student both in AND out of class! You can learn from everything you do! Make each ‘new experience’ into a learning opportunity, and it can be anything from laundry, cooking, choosing housemates, picking classes, to trying a new sport.
  9. Find one activity JUST FOR YOU! This is not a résumé-boosting exercise, but rather something that is PURE joy – a release where you can feel energized and inspired!
  10. Realize the support and community you have and will always have. Whether it is your first day or your last week of undergrad, it is NEVER too late to join Hillel! In my first year, I went to the Hillel bagel brunch and met four of my closest friends from undergrad! It was at Hillel that I found my home away from home, my comfort zone, my challah and kiddish, my passion for dancing to Bar Mitzvah tracks, and the opportunity to explore various avenues of Judaism. It was at Hillel that I got involved and was given the chance to take initiative – with resources and a team behind me to ensure that I felt inspired and supported every step of the way. Hillel is a place to go when things are good, bad, and ugly – not only when you feel alone, afraid, stressed, but also when you want to have fun, eat, and dance. Know that if you don’t go in your first week, month, year, it is NEVER too late – there will ALWAYS be a warm hug, friendly smile, and handful of “bamba” waiting for you!

Love, Shira, The Graduate


Written by Shira Druker, a graduate student at UofT.

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