Press Release: Hillel Commends Ryerson University Administration and Student Union for Committing to Host Annual Holocaust Education Programming

by | Dec 26, 2016 | Press Release | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Toronto, ON – Yesterday, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) Board of Directors voted unanimously to institute a Holocaust Education Week on campus. A similar motion was brought forward at the Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) in November, but failed to pass due to a student walk-out.

In the weeks following the SAGM, Hillel students and staff worked closely with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), StandWithUs Canada and Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Ryerson to highlight the importance of a week dedicated to Holocaust education.

Hillel has also been in direct contact with the Ryerson administration to explore ways to collaborate and combat anti-Semitism on campus, including making Holocaust education a priority. Ryerson University’s President, Mohamed Lachemi, met with Hillel Ryerson following the SAGM and has been working closely with faculty members to ensure the implementation of Holocaust Education Week on campus. The campus programming for the upcoming International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on January 27th, is already underway.

Today, Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario, Sara Lefton, Vice President, Greater Toronto Area for CIJA, and Michael Levitt, Member of Parliament for York Centre, met with President Mohamed Lachemi. Throughout the past few weeks and during this meeting, President Lachemi assured the community of his desire to make Holocaust Education Week an annual and ongoing event on campus. To that end, President Lachemi and Ryerson faculty members will collaborate with Hillel Ryerson to create an annual meaningful learning experience for all Ryerson students.

“I’m thrilled that all Ryerson students will now receive Holocaust education as a result of the hard work of Jewish students on campus,” said Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario. “Holocaust education is an important piece of combating anti-Semitism on campus. We are very pleased that President Lachemi worked with us to resolve this matter and is making Holocaust education a priority. We look forward to continuing to work with the Ryerson administration and faculty members to make this week-long initiative a reality.”

“It’s a great achievement to finally pass this motion in favour of Holocaust Education Week through the RSU,” said Samantha Cooper, a graduating Hillel student who originally submitted this motion. “This success will ensure that current and future students have the opportunity to learn about the Holocaust and the importance of never forgetting.”

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Hillel strives to inspire every Jewish student in Ontario to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel.

For more information, please contact:

Ilan Orzy
Associate Director, Advocacy
Hillel Ontario
416.913.2424 ext.3004
ilan.orzy@hillelontario.org

Stronger Together!

Stronger Together!

Over this past Family Day Weekend, I spent a lot of time reflecting both about the challenges we face, but also about the incredible strength and resiliency of this community. Jewish students are often at the forefront of hate and discrimination on campus and online, but we are at our most powerful – and most effective – when we work together as one.

With that in mind, I want to provide several important advocacy updates.

First, I am excited to share that Hillel Ontario has begun convening meetings to coordinate advocacy initiatives amongst Jewish campus organizations across the country. The time has come for Hillel Ontario to lead the way in encouraging cooperation to accomplish the goals we collectively share. Joining us in these monthly discussions are Hillel Montreal, Hillel BC, Hillel Ottawa, CJPAC, Hasbara Fellowships and StandWithUs. We appreciate their willingness to engage with us in these important conversations.

Second, I want to update you on the University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) matter that galvanized much community discussion last week. In addition to endorsing a motion to divest from companies doing business in Israel, the union misrepresented the recently released report of the Antisemitism Working Group and its approach to what does or does not constitute antisemitism. Hillel views these type of divestment motions as part of a wider issue of antisemitism on campus, and we have made that point clearly and consistently to university leadership and members of the Working Group for the better part of the past year.

Late Friday, Working Group members released an important statement, which both criticized the rhetoric of union leaders, and vindicated our belief that hate speech directed at Israel, Israelis or Jews based on actions (real or imagined) of the Israeli government is antisemitism. This is an important moment; one that underscores why our approach to these issues, and the allies we foster across campus are so critical. While we may not be able to stop every divestment motion from passing, we can – and we will continue to – have our voices heard by university leadership to ensure antisemitism remains on the margins. This is precisely what happened last week at the UofT.

Jewish students deserve to study, live and socialize in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Hillel will continue to condemn antisemitism, defend Israel and our right to self-determination, and build essential relationships on campus to secure the well-being of the students we so proudly serve.

And, we will do so in concert with our allies; because we believe we are stronger together.

Sincerely,

Jay Solomon
Chief Communications & Public Affairs Officer

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Nature vs. Nurture, and Nate Deserves Our Anger

Weekly D’var: Toldot 5782 by Scott Goldstein

[Warning: Ted Lasso show spoiler] I just finished watching the second season of Ted Lasso, and I cannot get the image of the finale out of my head. Haven’t seen it yet? That’s ok, I’ll recap part of this week’s Torah portion as you go catch up and then tie it in at the end for when you get back.

When not detailing the intricate politics of well-digging and water rights, this week’s Torah portion takes some time to highlight our favourite biblical twins – Jacob and Esav (a.k.a. Esau). Some may even refer to this as the first twin study on “Nature vs. Nurture” (shoutout to my psychology peeps) ever recorded. We are presented with brothers that were raised in the same environment but turned out to be polar opposites. I’ll let you read the riveting stories of birthright transactions and elaborate deceptions on your own, but the narrative we are presented with is clear: Jacob is good, and Esav is bad. Here’s the problem I had with this narrative: If Esav was raised in a good environment, but still did bad things, then is the Torah telling us that our destiny is sealed by nature?

I just finished watching Ted Lasso, and I cannot help but think about how loveable Nate (played by Nick Mohammed) is a perfect example of what I think our Torah portion is trying to tell us. Ted Lasso (played masterfully by Jason Sudeikis) created a nurturing environment where Nate could grow from invisible kit manager to assistant coach that everyone loves. Despite all that, it comes down to the decisions Nate made to allow jealousy to influence his actions, leading him to leave Richmond FC and betray his teammates by joining West Ham United.

I think the story we read in the Torah is reminding us that both nature and nurture are really important (just as science does), but our decisions, ultimately, are our own. Whether it’s Esav going down in history as the ultimate example of bad decision-making or Nate likely being the reason we see Ted cry next season, the lesson is clear… be like Jacob because we can make good decisions no matter the circumstances.

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