We Made History Today – Successful Outcome of Queen’s Park Anti-BDS Motion

by | Dec 1, 2016 | Hillel Ontario, Uncategorized | 0 comments

On Thursday, December 1st, 2016, the Ontario Legislature voted to pass a motion sponsored by Gila Martow, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Thornhill, which affirms the Government’s stance “against any position or movement that promotes or encourages any form of hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in any way”. Furthermore, the motion “rejects the differential treatment of Israel, including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement”.

This week, thousands of university students across the province played a key role in campaigning as many MPPs as possible to attend, and vote in favour of this motion. Through emails, phone calls, social media and several direct conversations with MPPs, students of all backgrounds came together in an effort to encourage their representatives to send a clear message rejecting the BDS movement, which has had an overwhelmingly negative effect on Jewish and non-Jewish students on campus and in our community.

Hillel Ontario is proud to have played a significant role in mobilizing thousands of students to stand up to the hatred and intolerance that the BDS movement has brought to their campuses. Hillel Ontario, in partnership with The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), worked hard to engage over 10,000 community members to spread this campaign throughout the Jewish and pro-Israel community in an effort to pass this motion.

Hillel Ontario’s ability to mobilize the students was crucial to the community’s success. We can not do this important advocacy work on campus without the generous support of donors like you. Please consider making a gift to Hillel Ontario in honour of this momentous victory and ensure our ability to inspire every Jewish student to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.
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“I am extremely proud of the way our community, but in particular our students, came together and worked tirelessly to engage their MPPs in such a short amount of time,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario. “Through our student leaders, our community partners, and Hillel professionals, we were successful at showing how important this motion is to the Jewish community, and how it will impact Jewish students on campus in the future.”

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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