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

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

Blown Away

Blown Away

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of Hillel board members and lay leaders for a short presentation on Hillel’s Jewish Learning Fellowship (JLF). Several students who had participated in the JLF program were on the Zoom call, as well as the Hillel staff who facilitate JLF cohorts on campus.

We were lucky to have a mini JLF experience. JLF was new to me, but as a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program, I am a massive fan of adult Jewish education. I know firsthand the kind of transformative experience it could be to CHOOSE as an adult to learn about Judaism.

To say that I was blown away is an understatement. I heard directly from students that they had approached this program with some anticipation and trepidation but ultimately walked away feeling more connected to their Judaism and to their community than they ever thought possible. I saw Rabbis approach young people with openness and care; their focus was on making their cohort understand how Judaism was relevant to today’s world, not just their grandparents’ time. I felt the emotion that came across, even over Zoom, that showed me that these young people “got it” and could internalize how Judaism could play a role in their adult lives well beyond the eight-week program.

I was touched to hear that when the students were asked to “pay it forward”, the vast majority of them did, because they wanted others to have the chance to see what they saw, feel what they felt and learn what they learned. As a lay leader, it is so important to see that my work and philanthropic contributions are touching real people and making a difference in real lives.

This small taste was enough to make me want to support this program in the future and I hope others will join me in doing so – we work hard on Jewish identity and we don’t have enough programs that actually move the needle. This one does! 

Elisa Palter

X