This year, I had the privilege and honour of co-hosting Hillel Ryerson’s Multifaith Shabbat Experience. This is an annual social and educational event in partnership with Ryerson University’s Presidents Office where students and staff from across campus come together to share a meal and welcome Shabbat.
This year, the organizing committee was faced with the challenge of keeping the core values of our usual multi-faith evening while holding it over Zoom. The Jewish community in Toronto has been changing how they bring people together since the pandemic began, and have found many ways to creatively find community in these times.
Our committee came up with a variety of ways to translate our event to a virtual space, including sending prepared Shabbat boxes to attendees’ homes with the necessary items to celebrate, and hosting an educational Challah braiding workshop. Additionally, we created breakout rooms during the event to simulate the conversations held while sharing a meal at a Shabbat table. Each breakout room was facilitated by a Hillel student leader who led a thoughtful discussion around the importance of rest, while also speaking to their own personal connections with Shabbat.
Each year, the Multi-Faith Shabbat experience is an opportunity for Jewish students, faculty, and our allies to come together and celebrate Jewish ritual on campus. We celebrate the universal values of Shabbat through inviting student leaders of other faiths to speak about what rest means to them. This year, we were honoured to hear students from the campus’ Catholic, Hindu, and Indigenous communities present and share their experiences. We also welcomed student leaders from several other clubs and organizations including the Ryerson Indian Association, Ryerson Student Union, and the Ryerson Liberal Arts Society.
Honouring and showing our appreciation to Ryerson University’s faculty and administration is also an important element to our event. This year we invited members, including the university’s newly appointed Director of Human Rights and Dean of Ryerson’s Law School, to recite the Shabbat blessings alongside our students. Typically, the evening is a wonderful way for students to network with staff, and so in replacement we created a second round of breakout rooms for students to engage with professors and administrators who related to their field of study.
For me, co-hosting the Multi-Faith Shabbat Experience was the highlight of the year. I am so thankful to Hillel for providing us with the outlet to create meaningful social and educational opportunities, and help us all find ways to foster positive experiences during this difficult time.
- Jen Miller, Hillel Ryerson
My name is Adam Rose and I am a second year Performance Production student at Ryerson University. This is the first year I have taken part in Hillel Ryerson and it has been nothing but a wonderful experience. A moment that stuck out to me was attending the well-loved and highly anticipated annual Multi-Faith Shabbat Experience.
Since the event was held virtually this year, I was asked to be a breakout room facilitator to recreate what would normally be networking in person. It was so much fun and an absolute pleasure to guide conversations with students, faculty members, and President Lachemi himself about topics concerning the importance of rest during Shabbat. We took the time to reflect and be grateful for the week that had just passed and looked forward to the week ahead.
I was also lucky enough to have been asked to create an artistic work that correlated with the Hamotzi blessing (for bread) for the event. The inclusion of tangible elements like students’ artwork allowed the sense of community and personability, which the Multi-Faith Shabbat Experience is known for, to continue online. Displaying the selected pieces also had the benefit of showcasing and elevating the talent spread across the range of unique arts programs that Ryerson University has to offer. I am very grateful and proud to have been a part of this experience and excited to further my Hillel Ryerson journey.
- Adam Rose, Hillel Ryerson