Hillel Ontario is proud to be a signatory to No Silence on Race. We endorse the letter’s aims of dismantling racism in Jewish communities and welcome its outline of nine pillars as a guide for our efforts.
Our organizational vision is an Ontario where every Jewish student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. Hillel Ontario takes the word “every” seriously; our vision demands virtual and physical spaces that intentionally welcome Black, Mizrachi, Sefardi, and Indigenous Jews and Jews of Colour and celebrate all Jewish identities. Indeed, the Hillel Ontario we envision is based in a community that enthusiastically reflects a full spectrum of Jewish diversity.
We acknowledge both that we have work to do in this area and the importance of committing to concrete action. Inspired by No Silence on Race, we commit to the following:
- Adopting a listening posture so we can better understand the experiences of BIPOC, Mizrachi, and Sefardi Jews;
- Inviting, but not requiring, the BIPOC individuals among our staff, lay leadership, and students to be part of our efforts to learn and grow as an organization;
- Examining recruitment and hiring practices to bolster BIPOC representation among staff (including campus and organizational leadership) and lay leaders;
- Launching educational content, training, and learning for staff, students, and other stakeholders on issues of racial justice, implicit bias, power, and privilege, among other topics;
- Strengthening and leveraging our relationships with campus diversity offices to provide training for our students and staff and to better serve as allies to all BIPOC members of our campus communities;
- Recognizing the emotional labour that goes into BIPOC individuals contributing to our organization’s betterment and ensuring that they are appropriately compensated;
- Redoubling our efforts to enhance programming for and about BIPOC Jews;
- Reaching out to other Jewish organizations engaging in their own efforts in this sphere with an eye toward convening representatives and forming a collaborative working group for mutual support, direction, and accountability;
- Developing a multi-faceted plan for cultivating diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism; and
- Exploring the best way to advance this work internally and hold ourselves accountable, including the possibility of assembling a Hillel Ontario task force to learn about, investigate, and respond to racial injustice, implicit bias, power, and privilege.
The tenth century midrash Tanna Debei Eliezer cites G-d as asking and directing the Jewish people in part, “My children, there is nothing I lack that you could provide me. What do I ask of you? Only that you love each other, respect each other, and have reverence for each other.” In seeking to create a more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable Jewish community, we embrace the sentiment behind No Silence on Race and look forward to future progress toward a truer expression of klal yisrael, the unity of the entire Jewish people.