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.”


Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.


Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.