Israel Fires

by | Dec 4, 2016 | Hillel Ontario, Israel, News, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ein Li Eretz Acheret – I Have No Other Land

Lyrics by Ehud Manor

I have no other country

even if my land is aflame

Just a word in Hebrew

pierces my veins and my soul – 

With a painful body, with a hungry heart,

Here is my home.

I will not stay silent 

because my country changed her face

https://youtu.be/aLv8umv58u0

Over the past several days we have been inundated with images, videos and stories of the terrible crisis and tragedy that has hit the forests and cities of Israel.  Over 30,000 acres (the equivalent of about 70% of Washington, DC) of land have been torched, burned and destroyed.  Thousands of people have had to evacuate their homes not knowing when they will be able to return or even if they will have somewhere to return to.  

I spent a lot of time reaching out to students on campus who have families and relatives in Israel making sure they were okay, offering my support.  I reached out to my friends and colleagues in Israel including our former Jewish Agency for Israel Israel Fellows and UJA Shinshinim, also making sure that they and their families were not harmed by the fires.  Thankfully with international firefighting support and the coordination of Israel’s firefighting services the fires have been extinguished.

While we cannot see, the flames burning, we are left with the reality, the pain, and the damage that remains.  As in the past, once again, we challenged as a people, as a nation and as a country to unite and rebuild.  As our American friends finish celebrating their Thanksgiving season and we enter the holiday season, the season of peace, we must not forget that Israel and the people of Israel need our support.  Unity is best expressed when people, when strangers come together for a common purpose, a common goal and achieve it.  With the aftermath of the fires you can see a perfect example of this – people coming together.

I cannot help but think as we approach the start of the Birthright Israel trip season, what will the scenery our participants get to experience look like? The forests, The hills, The land? What color will they be?  What smells will they have?  What stories will they tell?

I urge all of us to do our part, GO and VISIT, help PLANT A TREE through the JNF Emergency Campaign or DONATE to another Israeli relief organization, REACH OUT to our former Israel Fellows and Shinshinim living in Israel.

Am Yisrael Chai!

Lior Cyngiser

VP, Israel Engagement & Education

Hillel Ontario

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

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