In this week’s parsha, Parshat Vayishlach, the Torah tells us about the famous story regarding Yaakov and the angel that he fought. One night, Yaakov went to sleep and in his dream, he finds himself fighting someone. The famous commentator Rashi states that this person that Yaakov fought was the angel of Esav, Yaakov’s brother. The fight lasts all night and ends with the angel tearing out Yaakov’s sciatic nerve and then blessing Yaakov, giving him the name Yisrael, because Yaakov struggled with both man and G-d and prevailed. At the end of this portion in the Torah, we are commanded not to eat the sciatic nerve, as a memory of Yaakov’s struggles.
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