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

Something New

Something New

The fall post-holiday period is always a good time for launching new things. To the extent we’re not completely exhausted, our five-day work weeks are back (instead of five days of work crammed into three-day weeks), and we’re able to get into something of a rhythm and build momentum in moving toward specific goals.

Adding to the sense of newness and adventure, the third post-holidays Torah portion of Lekh Lekha, which was read this past Shabbat, begins with Abraham receiving divine instructions to leave his home and begin a journey to a new land.  Commentators highlight the uncertainty inherent in the command’s wording: instead of being directed to a specific place, Abraham, at least initially, is told to go “to the land that I will show you,” a vague and undisclosed destination. While he is promised blessings galore for his obedience, setting out requires an element of faith and quite a bit of trust as he leaves his home land and father’s house for somewhere new.

While it’s certainly several orders of magnitude smaller than the journey Abraham undertook, Hillel Ontario is trying something new this week: we’re introducing a new section to our regular newsletters and will be including a d’var Torah to showcase our students’ and staff’s skills and present our readers with a bit of Jewish learning. We hope you’ll find these commentaries inspiring and meaningful and that they’ll provide a glimpse of the Hillel Ontario community that spans our nine campuses.

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

A Message from Hillel Ontario’s Student Presidents

Dear students, parents, supporters, and other members of the Ontario Jewish community,

We are writing to you as the Hillel presidents representing nine universities across Ontario. 

We are often asked what it’s like to be a Jewish student on campus. And, in previous years, we would have taken a more upbeat approach to answering that question. The truth is that things have changed over the past 5 months.

Prior to this spring’s war in Israel, we had never experienced the level of vitriol and backlash that we did recently. We were caught off guard. Many Jewish students lost friendships and severed connections that had been created over many years. Our mental health was stretched to the limit; we have felt burnt out, isolated and anxious.  Even now, with autumn upon us, we are still feeling the exhausting effects of a summer spent advocating for the well-being of our fellow Jewish students. 

Walking back onto campus this week, it was difficult to see some students obviously (and understandably) anxious – both because of the pandemic, and because of the antisemitism Jewish students have experienced over the past several months. At the same time, we also feel more empowered than ever to proclaim pride in our Jewish identity, bolstered by the tremendous support we have felt from across the community.  

Whether you are a first year student, a parent, a sibling, an alum, or simply a member of the community concerned about what seems like an endless barrage of attacks aimed at Jewish students on campus, we want to assure you that as Hillel presidents, we are deeply committed to our roles and responsibilities. We hear your concerns. And, we are proud to serve the current and future Jewish students we support.  

We are working to build relationships with student governments, clubs, interfaith groups, faculty, and administrators on each of our campuses. We continue to empower our peers to learn, to educate, and to advocate for the issues close to our hearts. And, we continue to provide a safe and welcoming community for Jewish students, both on and off campus. 

We also seek to increase resources and staff available to our students so that no one feels unsupported or ill-prepared. We want Jewish students to feel like they can be their entire selves without having to hide a Magen David or avoid conversations about Judaism, Zionism or Israel. 

As we move into a new Jewish year and a new school year, we wish we could say with more certainty exactly what is to come in the next few months. However, it would be naive to do so. Instead, we would like to take this opportunity to commit to you that we will continue to have challenging, but necessary, dialogue with allies across campus. We will continue to support our peers when they feel uncomfortable. And, we will continue to ask for help when we need it. 

Time and time again, our collective history has proven that in a proud, empowered, and united community there is strength, and that from one another we can draw resilience. 

L’shana Haba on quieter, more inclusive campuses. 

Ariel Oren, Guelph Hillel
Evan Kanter, Hillel Student Leader Representative, Hillel UofT
Nathaniel Katz, Queen’s Hillel
Shira Miller, Hillel Laurier
Danielle Lebowitz, Hillel Waterloo
Hannah Silverman, McMaster Hillel
Jordan Goldenberg, Hillel Ryerson
Isabel Borisov, Western Hillel
Nicole Bodenstein, York Hillel

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