Happy Channukah from Hillel Ontario’s Board of Directors

by | Dec 23, 2016 | Hillel Board, Hillel Ontario, Jewish Holiday | 0 comments

Written by Micki Mizrahi, Chair

Rabbi Hillel declared: “A single candle can light a thousand more without diminishing itself.” Tomorrow night, the Jewish world along with Jewish students who have been impacted by their campus Hillel, most of whom are home with their families, will be lighting the Chanukah candles. We will witness that the Shamash flame will not be diminished as it lights the first candle.

Hillel Ontario’s Board of Directors wanted to reflect on the accomplishments that our talented Hillel professionals have supported and executed, and share our collective successes from 2016. These achievements have demonstrated that one candle, one student, one Hillel professional, one volunteer, one Hillel partner organization, can light many other candles, students, Hillel professionals, volunteers, and Hillel partner organizations without diminishing itself. These lights that are strong enough to influence and inspire thousands are:

  • The innovative student who impacted over 3000 students at Guelph University when she organized a replica of a German cattle car to be on campus during Holocaust Education Week
  • The highest attended AGM and largest community event to date where Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International discussed the trends, successes, and challenges across university Campuses. He was joined at the community event with Adam Minsky (President and CEO, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto), Shimon Fogel (Executive Director, CIJA) and Marc Newburgh (CEO, Hillel Ontario)
  • The group of community lay and professional leaders who helped develop the brand new Hillel Ontario Strategic Plan to launch our regional Hillel as the largest one in the world and has now been used as a model of excellence at Hillel International Board of Directors meetings and the JFNA General Assembly (where we sponsored 5 Hillel student leaders to participate in the conference)
  • The partnering with CIJA to help the anti-BDS Motion at Queen’s Park succeed where in 48 hours, Hillel students were mobilized and actively helped provincial MPPs understand the importance of their positive vote
  • The winning an award from Hillel International for our fundraising initiative On One Foot, which has now been adopted by campuses all over North America.

On behalf of our devoted Board of Directors, I’d like to thank the remarkable Marc Newburgh and all of the Hillel Ontario professionals, student leaders and generous donors who are ensuring that Jewish life on campus is strong and vibrant and as bright as the beautifully lit Chanukiah.

All my best,
Micki Mizrahi, Chair, Hillel Ontario Board of Directors

 

Board of Directors: Marcy Abramsky, Michael Diamond, Yona Elishis, Daniel Ferman, Yael Karol, Noah Kochman, Michael Kuhl, Pamela Kuhl, Leanne Matlow, Henry Morton, Jeremy Pertman, Ed Prutschi, Stephen Shore, Allan Weinbaum

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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