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 Hillel Do?

We hear the question “what does Hillel do?” a lot.

To help answer it, watch the journeys of Jewish student leaders Gil and Sofia to get a sense of what Hillel student engagement looks like on campus

An Update from our CEO Re-Opening our Spaces

An Update from our CEO Re-Opening our Spaces

I hope you are enjoying these summer months and staying safe and healthy.

You read in my previous blog, that when our students return to class this fall they will find a newly restructured Hillel. And so now that Universities across the province have shared their plans to reopen, I’d like to share an update on how we at Hillel Ontario are thinking about our students and our staff, and how we’re planning for the start of the academic year.

It really can’t be said enough—the health of our students, and the health of our staff, are our priority. And every decision we make as we address our operations will be made through that lens. We want to be sure the approach we’re taking is thoughtful, and that we’re creating a Hillel environment that’s safe for everyone.

Our Hillel spaces won’t open all at once, we’re going to take a phased approach, only reopening when: 

  •   we are allowed to do so based on guidelines set by provincial and municipal governments;
  •   we are aligned with plans that have been formalized by our university partners
  •   we’re prepared with the right safety measures and protocols; and
  •   we have confidence we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and our staff.

When we do reopen, more than anything we want to ensure our students and staff are safe, and that they feel comfortable. We’re therefore making updates to the way in which we operate and support our students to help keep everyone healthy. Some of those updates include:

  •   conducting health screenings for our staff;
  •   providing face coverings for staff and students
  •   taking steps to allow for social distancing of two meters or more, which may have to include limiting the number of staff and students in our space;
  •   increasing cleaning and sanitization;
  •   pausing or adapting various programs and events; and
  •   altering hours of operation, as may be necessary.

You can learn more about our approach, details on how we’re ensuring a safe environment, and ways we’re supporting our students, staff, and communities on our website. We’ll also post details on social media relative to each individual campus.

Should you wish to speak to a member of our team please email administrator@hillelontario.org. 

Stay safe and healthy,
Marc Newburgh, CEO

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