Introducing Our New Staff Members!

by | Sep 9, 2021 | Hillel Ontario, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Every year, we welcome new members to our talented team of Hillel professionals!
This year, we are thrilled to welcome Ashley Murphy, Aviva Davis, Jacob Brickman, Maya Shapira, Miriam Greenberg, Rebecca Ross, Jacqueline Dressler, Sofia Musman and Deborah Pekar.

Read on to get to know them a little better…

 

Ashley MurphyPhoto of: Ashley Murphy - Program Coordinator
Program Coordinator, Hillel Ryerson

Q. What university did you attend?
A. York University
Q. What did you study?
A. Devised Theatre
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. I don’t typically celebrate the holidays, but when I do it is all about good company and good food.
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. I was invited by a friend I made in University and I was told Hillel York was THE best place to hangout. After that day, it became the place I felt most at home at York.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. The network of amazing and like-minded people I get to surround myself with on a daily basis.
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A. To make as many connections as possible, get to know everyone and have fun! 🙂

Photo of: Jared Drewnowsky, VP Philanthropy

Jared Drewnowsky
VP, Philanthropy, Hillel Ontario

Q. What university did you attend?
A. University of Western Ontario
Q. What did you study?
A. I have an Honours Degree in History
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. Time spent with family. It’s always nice to be able to catch up and just sit and talk without the distractions of day-to-day life
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. I attended a Hillel dinner in my 2nd year of University. I was introduced to Hillel though a longtime friend who was a year ahead of me. It was a great experience that I wish I’d had early on in my first year.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. I believe that the impact that we can have on young adults at a time when they are really starting to figure out not only who they are but who they want to be is a tremendous privilege.
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
I hope that we finally figure out how to not only be together in person but to stay together in person. I hope that the coming year can be one of bonding and healing as a whole.

 

Photo of: Aviva, Creative StrategistAviva Davis
Creative Strategist, Hillel Ontario

Q. What university did you attend?
A. Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Q. What did you study?
A. Communication Design
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. Getting to spend time with my family
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. I went to a Hillel lunch in my 2nd year of university
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. Being a part of the Toronto/Ontario Jewish community and making a positive impact in that community
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
To learn a new skill, like coding!

 

Photo of: Jacob, Springboard FellowJacob Brickman
Springboard Fellow, Hillel Waterloo

Q. What university did you attend?
A. Western University
Q. What did you study?
A. Psychology
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. Being together with family over big meals
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A.
It was a one-on-one coffee chat with Leora Tarshish, who had just arrived at Western as the Senior Jewish Educator and I was going into in my third of five years at Western (never too late to get connected!).
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. Building the Jewish student community on campus and empowering students who are already doing fantastic work to plan for the year!
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
More in-person events (with food!) in Waterloo for students to go to.

 

Photo of: Maya, Advocacy CoordinatorMaya Shapira
Advocacy Coordinator, Guelph Hillel & Hillels Waterloo and Laurier

Q. What university did you attend?
A. Queen’s University
Q. What did you study?
A. History with a focus on the cold war and genocides
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. My favourite thing about the Jewish holidays is the connections we make, both strengthening our pre-existing connections with our families and close friends and making new ones with people we haven’t met yet! Especially for the high holidays, it feels like a beginning, and always a really positive way to start off the year.
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. My first encounter with Hillel was in University like most students, attending the welcome BBQ for frosh students at Queen’s with a couple of friends I knew from high school.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. What most excites me about working with Hillel is the opportunity to connect with students – especially students who like myself, weren’t really engaged with Hillel in University, but totally could have been!
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
My wish for this upcoming year is for students that are returning to campuses (or arriving for the first time) will find a sense of home and community at Hillel and hopefully normalcy as well.

 

Miriam GreenbergPhoto of Miriam, JLIC
Director, Jewish Learning Initiative (OU/JLIC)

Q. What university did you attend?
A.  I attended York University for my undergraduate degrees and OISE/UofT for my Master’s degree.
Q. What did you study?
A. Psychology and Education for my undergrad and went on to complete an MEd in Special education and adaptive instruction
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. I love the family time and all of the wonderful foods and traditions that bring us together during the holidays
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A.
My first encounter with Hillel was during my time at York as a student. I enjoyed visiting the Jewish Student Union and meeting new people, as well as reconnecting with familiar faces.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A.  I am so excited to develop new relationships, both with colleagues as well as students!
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
I wish for a healthy, productive and interactive year, full of much in person engagement 🙂
   

Deborah PekarPhoto of: Deborah, Business Manager
Business Manager

Q. What university did you attend?
A. Western University
Q. What did you study?
A. Criminology and Sociology
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. Seeing my family and food!!
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. During clubs and committee sign up day, there was a Hillel booth and I remember walking over and being welcomed! Everyone was so nice! And, of course, I remember the chicken soup hotline!
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. I’m so excited to be working for an organization with such incredible people! Everyone has been so welcoming and I’m ecstatic to begin my journey here!
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
Hopefully that we’re all back in the office and that the world shifts back to normal! 

Jacqueline Dressler
Advocacy Coordinator, Western Hillel

Photo of: Jacqueline, Advocacy Coordinator

Q. What university did you attend?
A. University of Michigan. Go Blue!
Q. What did you study?
A. History and Judaic studies
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. My favourite thing is spending lots of time in the kitchen making my favourite holiday dishes
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. My first encounter with Hillel was a Shabbat dinner, I remember it well because it was Chinese food!
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A.
Having the opportunity to work with such a talented team and our wonderful students! It is really exciting to be a part of an organization that values continuing education and learning opportunities as well.
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
My wish for the upcoming year is that we continue to offer kindness and grace to each other as we navigate our uncertain world and find new and engaging ways to build solidarity and community within our Jewish spaces and outside of them.

 

Rebecca Ross
Springboard Innovation Fellow, Hillel Laurier

Photo of: Rebecca, Springboard Fellow

Q. What university did you attend?
A. Ryerson University
Q. What did you study?
A.
Child and Youth Care (BA)
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A.
The bringing of family, community, and friends communally together, all with an underscored shared love and connection to Judaism; ‘being with’ in a meaningful way.
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. I can recall that experience clear-as-day! The Program Coordinator for Hillel Ryerson asked me for a coffee chat at Balzacs on Bond/Gould on campus, and in every way possible, they centred in on all the unique parts of my Jewish-ness that, at the time, I felt made me different and/or invaluable to the community. It was the first time in my entire life that I felt like my Jewish identity was being not just acknowledged, but also celebrated and invited into a space.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. Based on the above story, I am most excited to do the exact same for students – celebrate them. I want students at Hillel Laurier-Waterloo to know, and feel, that they can bring their whole selves to an interaction with me, and that those ‘selves’ – many intersecting and overlapping – will be both seen and empowered. I want to be a resource for helping students to continue exploring their Jewish ‘and’ (holistic) identities, and cultivate an ecosystem at Hillel that is shaped by, and reinforced through, student-centred wants and needs.

Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
My first wish for the upcoming year is that every single student that longs-for an inclusive Jewish space and/or resource at Laurier is met by our Hillel with open, welcoming arms! For the students that currently are involved, my wish is that I can seamlessly co-create an idea, an event, and/or a space with them that brings them a sense of accomplishment and pride. Most importantly, I want Hillel Laurier-Waterloo to unequivocally reflect all the desires and wishes of its students, whether new or returning. As a Springboard Innovation Fellow, I will quote what I said in my introduction emails to students: “this role will be shaped by all of you” – I truly believe that my efforts for innovation are incomplete without the individual input of what each and every student I work with hopes to see.

 

Sofia Musman
Program Coordinator, Western Hillel

Photo of: Sofia, Program Coordinator

Q. What university did you attend?
A. California State University Long Beach and Fanshawe College
Q. What did you study?
A. Digital Communication
Q. What is your favourite thing about Jewish holidays?
A. Being able to celebrate with family and friends, my favourite holiday is Passover
Q. What was your first encounter with Hillel?
A. First day freshman year, I met a jewish girl (who became my best friend and who also currently works at Hillel) in the dorms, she was talking about her bat mitzvah, I told her I was jewish and she took me to my first Hillel shabbat dinner.
Q. What excites you most about working at Hillel?
A. I was super involved with Hillel during my 4 years of undergrad, and loved it. I’m excited to be involved with it again, and to be able to provide students with a similar experience and I had, which was a home away from home.
Q. What is your wish for the upcoming year?
A.
I wish for this upcoming year to be more positive, to be able to have in person events and more meaningful interactions

Hillel International Student Cabinet 2021-2022

Hillel International Student Cabinet 2021-2022

Jordan Goldenberg, Ryerson University ‘23 and Leah Goldschmidt, York University ‘22, are representing Canadian Jewish students on Hillel International’s global stage. Here’s how they’re enhancing the Canadian Jewish campus experience for years to come:

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate on  the Hillel International Student Cabinet, as one of two Canadian representatives. I am honoured to join the board of  22 students from the United States of America, Israel, Russia and Brazil. 

Over the years, I have been very active in Hillel at York University, and was thrilled when Hillel York’s staff approached me about the opportunity to bring my enthusiasm and passion for Hillel on an international scale. 

Hillel has always been a safe space for me — somewhere I could go to feel comfortable about my Jewish identity, but also a place where I could meet other Jews on campus; some who have become my best friends. Although I only recently joined the Student Cabinet, I can genuinely say I have met some of the most incredible students and staff who are so passionate about the Hillel movement.

I am constantly amazed by the work Hillel students are doing around the world to support and connect the next generation of our community.. We have members who have founded their own Hillels at colleges with barely any Jews, members who are advocates for the LGBTQ+ community and have launched successful international LGBTQ+ cohorts, and members who are doing tremendous work in combating antisemitism. Being around such passionate and motivating students has inspired me to go after my own aspirations within Hillel; creating space for Jews with disabilities. 

As a student with a disability, I am very passionate about expanding space for Jews with disabilities, and while Hillel has taken great strides to increase accessibility and inclusivity; there’s lots more we can do. Hillel has given me incredible resources and support to launch my own projects within this space.

I am thrilled to be representing Canada in this incredible opportunity, and am looking forward to the year ahead.

Leah Goldschmidt, Hillel York

My name is Jordan Goldenberg, and I am a third-year student at Ryerson University studying business management. I am also the President of Hillel Ryerson. The Cabinet is made up of students from around the world, working towards the common goal of engaging Jewish university and college students worldwide. The role of the Cabinet is to serve as a voice for Jewish students and a means of connection to the worldwide Hillel movement. Being part of the collective voice means everything to me, and I am excited to be that voice for Jewish students amplifying Canada and Hillel Ontario’s role on the global stage. 

At the beginning of October,  I had the opportunity to go to DC with the Hillel International Student Cabinet. It was an incredible experience to collaborate with and learn from a variety of leaders in the Jewish community and the Hillel movement. I learned so much from our two student co-chairs, fellow cabinet members and Hillel professionals. We had the chance to get to know the greater Hillel movement through meetings with staff members from various departments and positions within Hillel International; including, but not limited to, the communications teams, board members, the CEO, Adam Lehman, and many more. We spoke at great lengths about the role each of our local Hillels play on our campuses and what we can learn from one another. Since the summit, we have already hit the ground running, with many students taking on various projects at both the local and international levels. I learned so much about the global Hillel movement and how to be a better leader for Jewish students on campus and in the community.

I have always been passionate about bringing people together and there is no better way to do so than collaborating with Jewish students and Hillel’s internationally. This international collaboration allows us to share our common values while celebrating our differences in order to create the best Hillel atmosphere and programming possible.

Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson

 

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.

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