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.

 

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.

Sincerely,

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.

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