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.”

 

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.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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