The night before the Children of Israel’s departure from Egypt is referred to as leil shimurim, often translated as a “night of vigil.” Rav Nahman and subsequent scholars interpret this phrase, which appears nowhere else in the Tanakh, as a time of divine protection. These scholars conclude the night when Passover begins is one of safety – one on which no harm can come to the Jewish people.
In the face of rising antisemitism, isolation, extremism, and other threats to Jews individually and collectively, we are fortunate that there are additional ways and times for seeking security and comfort. Building and sustaining strong, inclusive, and welcoming Jewish communities on campus enables Jewish students to experience a sense of belonging with their peers, bolster their leadership skills, advocate for themselves, and chart their own Jewish journeys. Indeed, Hillel Ontario is on track for a record-breaking year, in which we will engage more than 3,500 Jewish students. Leil shimurim might be just one night, but together, we can fortify emerging adults’ Jewish identities and provide spaces in which they prepare to take on leadership roles after graduation.
As we head into Passover, we are grateful for all of the contributions you’ve made in support of Jewish student life in Ontario. Your generosity allows us to confront antisemitism, instill a sense of joy, pride, and resilience in Jewish students, and empower the next generation of Jewish leaders.
While we’re proud of our success, more work remains to provide for our universities’ 10,000 Jewish students who remain unengaged with Jewish campus life in Ontario. In conjunction with your observance of the upcoming holiday, please consider a gift to Hillel Ontario so we can continue our work and provide additional openings for connection with Jewish life, learning, and Israel.
CEO, Hillel Ontario