My Parent Perspective as a Parent

by | Aug 31, 2020 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

It was a sudden and abrupt end to an otherwise regular university semester. No one could have anticipated the destabilizing nature of parting from many friends, schoolmates, and professors without the expected personal face-to-face interactions and graduation noise. 

As our daughter, Joelle was fast approaching the end of her last semester of her last year of undergraduate studies at the University of Guelph, she was looking forward to an agenda filled with many programs and social events with both Hillel and Chabad. Like all the students, she rushed back home and experienced the stress of being unsure of the future and the threat of a highly contagious virus that was intensified by parents who insisted on going food foraging more than ever before. 

Shortly into the quarantine, many opportunities for social engagement and volunteerism, albeit in a new format, came about. Hillel meetings and events provided Joelle with a sense of community and familiarity. Best of all, since we were home together at the strangest afternoon and early evening hours, we were able to “Zoom bomb” the various meetings to say hello to Gila (Director of Hillel Guelph whom we befriended over the last 6 years) and to the many students whom we have watched grow and mature prior to and throughout their university years. Laughter and social engagement were the most welcome diversions from the daily COVID-19 news and professional Zoom calls. Joelle participated in all that Hillel had to offer from Happy Hour (BYO snacks and drinks), occasional group hangouts, and meetings to plan for Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha’atzmaut. Even when the university year ended, Joelle participated in a Hillel Alumni Town Hall for future planning. 

The semester ended, undergrad ended but the connections and friendships persist, as does an empowered, connected, and talented young leader. As we had witnessed once before with our eldest daughter, Alexandra, Hillel staff and directors are always cheerleaders who are elevating the potential of each of their student members, as well as supportive friends. We feel it is appropriate to acknowledge and thank Hillel Ontario, Guelph Hillel, and Chabad of Guelph for enriching the lives of our daughters and ours.

With sincere appreciation,
Iris Kivity-Chandler and Mark Chandler

Last year was my son Raffi’s first year at university outside of Toronto at McMaster University. Since he was only a couple of hours away, he often came home on the occasional weekend, during school holidays, and for reading week. When the pandemic hit, it was almost like he hadn’t gone away!

He’s remained connected to friends from university, school, and Camp Ramah online, with the occasional face-to-face visit. As his parent, I notice that he certainly misses the camaraderie of being on campus and in-person classes. He misses the Chabad/Hillel Shabbat dinners (Shabbat dinner at home with one’s family isn’t quite the same!), AEPi events, and his McMaster Pops Orchestra practices and concerts. And I know he misses those Hillel bagel lunches!

As an only child, he can often find things to do when he’s alone at home, but I notice that he is starting to get bored – he’d really like to be spending more time in the same space in the company of friends.

The abrupt shutdown of everything in March was a disappointment; Raffi wanted to stay in residence as long as possible, even as most students packed up and went home. He had no trouble getting used to online learning and exams in March/April and I don’t expect the Fall term will be a problem since he finds it easy to collaborate with fellow students online just as if they were working together in person.

He is excited about entering his 2nd year at McMaster University (and even has his sights set on what he wants to be doing in 3rd year and beyond!). The biggest difference this coming year is that he will have his first co-op placement, so will have to be working on finding a job for that, starting in September. This year will be different, but I know he’ll do okay. 

My hope for Raffi in the coming school year is that he continues to be happy and engaged in his studies and active in his social life (to the extent that one can be at a distance from one’s peers). He’s resilient and I am hopeful.

Gail

What does it mean to ReSync?

What does it mean to ReSync?

Last year, Hillel Ontario’s Out of Sync highlighted the incredible student talent on all nine university campuses. In addition to an audience of more than 350 community members for the event on February 1st, 2020, the fundraising campaign raised more than $150,000 to support for Jewish students across the province.

But the world has changed dramatically since then. So now, it is time to ReSync – our values, our priorities and our connections to community.

We have seen our students, staff and community members support one another and lift each other up in dark times and we know this is something to celebrate. 

From January 11th to February 7th, 2021, ReSync will highlight the stories of Jewish students across Ontario. You will have the opportunity to ReInvest in the strong Jewish campus communities and ReImagine what our programming on campus can look like. 

Here is what ReSync means to our students, Makayla and Harrison:

ReSync can mean different things to different people, but to me the word ReSync is more of a scenario then an actual definition. The scenario goes like this: you’re trying to reload a website you were on the other day and once you’re on you find out that the company has changed the website and how it works. In this case, the website is the world and we have to relearn a whole bunch of things because there is no going back to the normal we once knew. The new type of normal is going to look like people wearing masks for a long while, social distancing, and online schooling. 

We have entered a new stage in life and not the one of just getting older, but the one where staying home and not going out on the weekend isn’t looked down upon anymore. And staying away from people isn’t considered anti-social but highly encouraged. Hillel is, and has been, amazing at helping us students feel connected with one another and comfortable with this transition of a new way of learning and coping. 

ReSync has been important to me this year because it’s all about coming together and working as a team on a project, which is just another way to keep everyone connected. ReSync allows students to stay connected with staff and our peers on a different level, since we aren’t in our normal work space where students always used to hang out. Besides getting to see people coming together, not physically but virtually, the audience members should be looking forward to a night full of entertainment and enjoyment. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got!

  • Makayla Goodman, Hillel York

 

This year university life is undeniably different and poses a challenge to current and incoming university students. One of the greatest challenges for students is to develop their social lives. Prior to the pandemic, random bump-ins with other friends outside the library or yelling “HELLO!!!” across a busy concourse were welcome pleasures to my day. Unfortunately, that can no longer happen. 

ReSync for students at Hillel means to adjust, align or really resynchronize yourself with the changes. Prior to the pandemic, Hillel was always described as our University’s Jewish club with the emphasis on the social aspect. In a time when social interactions are limited and being strained, my Hillel on campus is ReSyncing from its wide-reaching regular events like weekly Bagel Lunches and monthly shabbat dinners to physical-distancing friendly Zoom events such as Shabbox, i.e., Shabbat in a box. 

While Hillel student executive teams are working hard to bring Hillel to every Jewish student no matter where they are, we are ReSyncing to engage as many students as possible through Hillel’s events. This year, ReSync is even more important so that Hillel students have sufficient funding next year to bring back our signature events and ReInvent and innovate their “never-tried before” ideas.

  • Harrison Levine, Guelph Hillel

 

Click here to meet the rest of the ReSync Team Leaders!

How Ontario’s Adoption of IHRA Affects Jewish Students on Campus

How Ontario’s Adoption of IHRA Affects Jewish Students on Campus

On October 27th, 2020, Ontario became the first province in Canada to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, following the federal government’s adoption on June 25th, 2019 as part of Canada’s anti-racism strategy. The Government of Ontario’s adoption of IHRA is a crucial milestone in our country’s effort to combat antisemitism, and is a clear message that our representative bodies place a primacy on Jewish communal safety and wellbeing. 

The first step in equipping our institutions with the resources to effectively deal with antisemitism is providing them with the tools to properly identify it. The adoption of IHRA by the Ontario government is important for our students on Ontario campuses because it further legitimizes the adoption of this working definition in other Canadian institutional spaces, including but not limited to universities. 

As an organization, Hillel will point to this historic piece of legislation in our ongoing efforts to have IHRA adopted by university student unions and administrative bodies across the province. Not only does the adoption of IHRA at the provincial level lend credence to these initiatives on Ontario campuses, it also reminds us just how important it is to let representative Jewish groups determine the nature and causes of contemporary antisemitism. We hope to continue seeing IHRA adopted in institutional settings within the Canadian context and beyond. 

Ruth Chitiz
Advocacy Manager

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