Across the province this month, Hillel Ontario was excited to welcome students back to campus. From socially-distanced backyard visits to Shabbat dinners-in-a-box, Hillel found innovative ways to meet first-year students, and reconnect with those that haven’t been seen in quite some time!  Here are some highlights:

Hillel UofT

With the first week of classes coinciding with Rosh Hashanah, Hillel UofT students welcomed in all kinds of new years!

At Come Chillel, we mingled outside the Wolfond Centre with snacks and Hillel UofT swag. Students who signed up for Rosh Hashanah dinner in a box received a delicious meal and other treats to make the new year sweet. Through the film 40 Days of Teshuva, followed by a discussion led by No Silence on Race founder Sara Yacobi-Harris, students explored how spirituality relates to the fight for racial justice. We even got outside into nature, taking a hike and Tashlich (ritual of casting away) in High Park. 

We fed our bodies and our souls, stretched our legs and our minds, and most importantly, we connected with each other, relieved and excited to be back on campus together. 

  • Rabbi Ariella, Senior Jewish Educator and Senior Campus Director, Hillel UofT


Guelph Hillel

On Friday, September 10th, Guelph Hillel opened up the Hillel House backyard for the 5782 | 2021/22 year to welcome new and returning students. It was an amazing opportunity to say hi to friends – new and old – and distribute boxed Shabbat dinners. For new students, Hillel offered an intimate backyard  Shabbat . 

“First Year Dinner was so much fun – I’ve missed in person events so much and it was truly magical getting to experience it again. I loved meeting new faces and reconnecting with friends, and getting to welcome Shabbat surrounded by the pure happiness everyone was radiating. I laughed until my stomach ached, ate delicious food, and experienced all the joy I had missed so dearly last year. I can’t wait for the next Hillel Shabbat already!” 

  • Paige Kemper, Engagement VP, Guelph Hillel student leader 


McMaster Hillel

This year, the first day of classes fell on Rosh Hashanah. It also marked a return to in-person activities on campus after nearly eighteen months! Despite the whirlwind of things to do in preparation for the academic year, it was important for Hillel to provide an avenue for students to celebrate the Jewish New Year through traditional holiday programming.

I had the privilege of hosting some first and second year students at my home in Hamilton for dinner on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. McMaster Hillel made the experience possible: our staff assisted with logistics and coordination, and the cost of ingredients was covered allowing me to cook a complete multi-course Rosh Hashanah dinner. Rabbi Ben Shefter, Senior Jewish Educator at McMaster Hillel, provided discussion points for me to lead the group in a lively discussion of the holiday’s meaning through both a historical and personal lens.

As a final-year student, it was also a great opportunity to connect with new students and give them some tips and tricks for success in university. Our Rosh Hashanah dinner provided us all with a sweet start to the new year, and it was a great opportunity to celebrate the holiday and reconnect after a long time away.

  • Josh Arbess, McMaster University, 5th year Engineering & Society student


Queen’s Hillel

After over a year of strictly online activities, Queen’s Hillel was finally able to welcome students back to campus with an in-person Havdalah on September 4th led by Carly Baldachin, Dylan Brown, and Jordan Epstein. Rabbi Erin Polansky started off the night by welcoming students to the Kingston Jewish community, and afterwards, 100 students were able to join in song and prayer. The energy of this evening was absolutely amazing and we cannot wait to have another night like this. 

  • Carly Baldachin, Queen’s Hillel student leader


Hillel Ryerson

With the warm September weather upon us, Hillel Ryerson was packed with outdoor programs! From park hangouts to Sukkot gatherings, we are so thankful to have the opportunity to be together in person.

A highlight was our first ever musical Havdalah in Thornhill woods. Students  came out to celebrate and welcome in the new week, and a new year of school. We capped off the night with some frozen yogurt and everyone took home their own mini Havdalah spice bags! Whether in person or virtual, we look forward to an amazing year ahead.

  • Elyse Wieskopf, Director, Hillel Ryerson