Press Release: Hillel Ontario Announces Schwartz/Reisman $1M Investment in Campus Advocacy

by | Feb 4, 2019 | Press Release | 0 comments

Toronto, ON — Today, Hillel Ontario announced a new investment in campus advocacy thanks to a $1M gift by The Gerald Schwartz & Heather Reisman Foundation. The gift will be used over three years to hire advocacy professionals that will join local Hillel campus teams across Ontario.

The Hillel Ontario campuses to benefit from the new strategy are Western, Ryerson, York, and McMaster.

“Hillel is the only organization that is on campus every single day, supporting students who are on the front line, fighting antisemitism and opposing those who demonize Israel,” said Gerald Schwartz. “We challenge community members who care about Jewish students to step up and join us in supporting this new strategy so that it can be expanded to other campuses across Ontario.”

The gift will be used to fund staff resources, specialized professional development and training, advocacy programming, and encompasses a comprehensive professional evaluation of campus climate and attitudes towards Israel and the Jewish community.

“Our mission is to ensure that every Jewish student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel,” said Marc Newburgh, Hillel Ontario CEO. “An environment in which Jewish students feel safe expressing their identity and connection with Israel is essential to nurturing a vibrant Jewish community on campus and an integral piece of Hillel Ontario’s strategic plan. This transformative gift will empower Hillel students to confront antisemitism, challenge hateful BDS initiatives, and foster strong relationships with university administrators, faculty members, student government and other campus leaders.”

Additional Background

  • Hillel Ontario has retained Rosov Consulting to conduct a comprehensive three-year study of the impact of this investment on campus climate and attitudes towards Israel at the four recipient campuses. Rosov will report its findings to the community each year to demonstrate measurable and tangible impact, share best practices and continue to refine and improve Hillel’s advocacy strategy.

About Hillel Ontario: As an affiliate of the largest Jewish student organization in the world, and now the largest global regional Hillel system, Hillel Ontario works to amplify Jewish campus life across nine universities, with a combined Jewish student population of over 13,000.

Hillel engages with, empowers, and inspires the leadership of more Jewish university and college students than all other endeavours combined. By promoting Jewish identity through life-changing trips and campus initiatives, cultivating student leadership and embracing religious, and political, diversity in an inclusive environment, students learn to make a meaningful impact on the future of the Jewish people and the world, while they grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually.

 

For more information please contact:

 

Ilan Orzy
Director, Advocacy & Issues Management
Hillel Ontario
ilan.orzy@hillelontario.org | 416-913-2424 x 5

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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