My First (Virtual) Year at University

by | Oct 4, 2020 | Hillel Ontario, Jewish Life at Ryerson, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The pandemic has caused school to feel very different compared to what I’m used to. I used to go to class and make friends in person. Now, all of my courses are online and it’s significantly harder to do things – even ask questions in class. Times have changed, so the way I make friends has changed too. One method I’ve used is to talk to people through the chat feature on Zoom during class. This way, I can still connect with new people and form new friendships.

Hillel has also helped me adjust and make friends at Ryerson University. Hillel invited me to many events where they displayed a lot of positive energy toward me and other students and made sure we felt welcomed and included. I attended a few virtual hangouts and met other students from Ryerson and UofT at the in-person hangout at Earl Bales park. They even sent me a welcome bag, which included a Hillel blanket, a toque and a water bottle.

Ever since I was accepted to university, I’ve wanted to be involved in the Jewish community. And, being a social person, I always loved being around and meeting people from around the globe. From the first day, the staff have welcomed me with a smile on their faces and have been excited to hear about my origins. My story feels different compared to other Jewish people, being from Romania. But the staff at Hillel have encouraged me to share my history with others and have helped transform my story into something to be proud of, and to learn and grow from it. 

Hillel cares a lot about people. The way they treat you makes you feel wanted and valued and it’s obvious that the organization is here to help students. Hillel has provided an amazing experience and I recommend them to any student that wishes to get involved in the community. I feel lucky that an older Jewish friend told me about Hillel and I’ve been part of the community ever since. 

Erwin, Ryerson University ’24

A Hillel Summer: Keeping Spirits High

A Hillel Summer: Keeping Spirits High

My name is Stacey Ianco and I am going into my third year at Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management. Hillel has been my home away from home, and has helped me embrace my Jewish culture, enhance my Jewish identity, and meet new people.. 

This year has been like no other we have experienced. Throughout these challenging times, I have felt lucky to have remained connected with my fellow students – especially through my involvement in Hillel. 

Especially given the year we just experienced, Hillel has been vital to my Jewish campus life. That’s why I was so excited to hear that Hillel programming was going to continue during the summer.

Hillels Ryerson, York and UofT teamed up to create the Summer in the 6ix program, and I knew I wanted to participate. 

In addition to receiving some really cool swag, Summer in the 6ix connected me with activities and programming I

 could engage in alongside (virtually) other Jewish students across the GTA. We baked and decorated delicious sugar cookies over a Hillel Zoom meet, sharpened our knowledge and competed with other Hillel students in bi-weekly trivia games, and customized our Hillel t-shirts with tie-dye. In a summer characterized by distancing and separation, Hillel brought me closer to my community.

To be sure, this has been a difficult year for so many reasons. I am so appreciative of all that Hillel does for Jewish students across the province. Especially this year.

I will continue to be an active member of Hillel for all my years of university and the future. Hillel has given me the confidence I need to be a proud Jewish woman and has enhanced my university experience in many ways. 

I look forward to being able to create more special events to include and connect every Jewish student in Ontario for many years to come.

Stacey I., Hillel Ryerson Student Leader

Multi-Faith Shabbat Dinner at Ryerson University

Multi-Faith Shabbat Dinner at Ryerson University

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
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