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.

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario Welcomes University of Toronto’s Anti-Semitism Working Group

Hillel Ontario welcomes University of Toronto’s recent launch of a new Anti-Semitism Working Group. The Working Group will review programming, activities, processes, and practices in place at the University of Toronto’s three campuses and develop recommendations to support the University’s response to antisemitism.

“The establishment of a working group focused on antisemitism is a much-needed measure for the University of Toronto,” said Rob Nagus, Senior Director, Hillel UofT. “Too often, Jewish students who have faced antisemitism on campus have felt that their serious concerns around anti-Jewish hate were dismissed. Given the positive impact of recent anti-racism initiatives on the campus community, it is incumbent on our institutions to also address the unique challenges inherent to combating antisemitism.”

“Across the nine campuses we serve, Hillel Ontario is committed to working with all university administrations to champion the voices of Jewish students,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO, Hillel Ontario. “We look forward to supporting the work of the University of Toronto by ensuring these voices are heard and acknowledged. Doing so will help the Working Group better understand how contemporary antisemitism manifests on campus.”

Hillel International Honours Hillel Ontario

Hillel International Honours Hillel Ontario

Hillel International recently honoured outstanding Hillels and Hillel professionals for creating innovative Jewish experiences and meaningful connections throughout the pandemic.

Among those recognized was Hillel Ontario, and its Chief Campus and Education Officer, Rabbi Seth Goren.

As a whole, Hillel Ontario – the largest regional Hillel in the world – was honoured with The Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Innovation Award. This recognition is awarded to a Hillel for its creation of innovative processes that refresh, reinvent or revolutionize the relationships, communities and experiences helping students engage in Jewish self-authorship, or for helping staff improve the impact of their work by encouraging reasonable and calculated risk-taking, exploration, and curiosity.

In addition, Rabbi Seth Goren was honoured with The Richard M. Joel Exemplars of Excellence Award for his passion and outstanding devotion to the Jewish campus community, for enriching the lives of Hillel students and for ensuring that the organization reflects a culture of excellence.

I am privileged to work with such a talented, caring, and resilient group of campus professionals, led by Rabbi Seth Goren” said Hillel Ontario CEO, Marc Newburgh. “While confronted with so many significant challenges, this team has done an incredible job inspiring, supporting and empowering our students, creating meaningful and reimagined opportunities for connection that amplify Jewish campus life.”

About Hillel International
Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for more than 90 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with emerging adults at more than 550 colleges and universities, and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.