Meet Seth

by | Sep 15, 2017 | Entertainment, Hillel Ontario, News | 0 comments

Who Are You?

Name: Seth Goren

Position: Vice President, Education and Engagement

Hometown: Oreland, Pennsylvania, USA (just outside of Philadelphia)

Where did you go to college/university? I went to the University of Pennsylvania for what seemed like forever (undergrad, graduate, and law school), and then attended Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion for rabbinical school.

 

Joining the Family

What is your role at Hillel? I’m going to be overseeing an educational and engagement vision setting for the organization and supporting staff and student learning.

What are you *most* excited for this year? Learning about how each of the campuses, especially staff and students, is different and special.

What’s one thing nobody at Hillel knows about you?  I love to cook, but I’m not so great at it (aside from soups, which I seem to be able to pull off).  I’ve baked cakes with the quantities of salt and sugar accidentally reversed.  I’ve made tomato sauce where the “secret ingredient” was Crystal Lite sugar-free lemonade.  (People said they liked it until I told them what was in it.)  And ask me about the unfortunate spinach quiche incident.  Shudder.

What do you think you bring to the team? I love listening to people and their stories, asking questions about who they are and why they’ve made certain choices, and learning more about what led them to where they are now.  I’m also a fan of convening and strengthening communities, connecting people to each other, and fostering a sense of together-ness.

 

Personal Favourites

Favourite Movie: “The Royal Tennenbaums.”  Or maybe “Moonrise Kingdom.”  The first is a fantastic pre-Yom Kippur movie about atonement and forgiveness, and the second is a beautiful coming-of-age film in which the children often act like adults (or try to) and the adults act like children.  Either way, my answer is definitely something by Wes Anderson.

Best Toppings on a Pizza: Ricotta cheese, tomato, and red onion, preferably on very thin crust.

Favourite Jewish Holiday: Lag Ba’Omer.  In addition to liking the bonfires and running around outside, I always think of it as the real beginning of summer.

Dream “Getaway” Destination: Somewhere mellow and warm with low humidity.  With lots of people I love all around.

Song Title that Best Describes you: I have to go with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (But If You Try Sometimes, You Just Might Find You Get What You Need).”  That probably needs a little unpacking.  When I was a kid, I would sometimes tell my grandmother (may her memory be a blessing) that I wanted something that was, perhaps, a bit unreasonable (like, at one point, a horse).  My grandmother would say, “You know what Mick Jagger says?”, referencing this particular song title.  It wasn’t until years later that I found out that the following line in the song offers a bit of comfort and highlights the difference between what you want and what you need.  The upshot: I like this song because (a) it’s a good reminder for me to ask myself if what I’m asking for is what I want or what I need, and (b) it reminds me of my grandmother, who was awesome.

The Animal that best describes me is: I had a hard time narrowing this down, so I asked my six-year-old daughter.  She said I’d be a macaw because I’m pretty calm, good to talk to, and a vegetarian.  So, yeah, I’m a macaw.

Challah – Raisin or Plain? For regular eating, plain.  For french toast, raisin, extra eggy.

Favourite Hamentashen Filling: If we’re going with the classics, I’d have to say cherry, but I love some of the more experimental kinds (peanut butter and nutella comes to mind) even more.  Please, never give me the raspberry jam ones.  Blech.

 

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

X