Press Release: Hillel Ontario Condemns Anti-Semitic Incidence At Ryerson University

by | Nov 30, 2016 | Press Release | 0 comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 30, 2016

Toronto, ON – On Tuesday, November 29th, 2016, the Ryerson Student Union (RSU) held an Annual General Meeting (AGM) on campus. A student from Hillel Ryerson submitted a motion she had crafted, calling on the RSU to commemorate the annual  Holocaust Education Week on campus by hosting events for students of all backgrounds to learn about this dark period in human history.

This student anticipated that her motion might be challenged by some members of the student body who would seek to politicize Holocaust education. She therefore included clauses in her motion that limit the scope of programs such that they focus solely on the genocide of the Jewish people in Europe.

At the general meeting, students voted to amend the motion to propose a week to commemorate all genocides. Hillel students advocated strongly in favour of dedicated programs for each genocide, but were reportedly told that “the Holocaust is not inclusive enough for all students to participate in” and “the majority of Jews on campus would oppose such a motion”.

Once it became clear that the amended motion would likely pass, a group of students staged an informal walk-out, thereby removing quorum from the AGM and blocking any more votes. Hillel students reported seeing several individuals block entranceways to the AGM and intimidate others who tried to enter after the walk-out had happened.

Hillel Ontario is shocked that university students would reject an apolitical week dedicated to Holocaust education, and moreover, that individuals would go as far as to block others from entering the room. It is deeply disturbing to see students engage in such blatant anti-Semitism. While we recognize that this hateful act reflects a fringe group of students, its negative impact on the Jewish campus community cannot be ignored.

Hillel Ontario and Hillel Ryerson will not stand by while our students are intimidated for being Jewish and for advocating in favour of Holocaust Education. We will continue to stand up to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bigotry, and provide a safe and inclusive environment for Jewish students on campus.

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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

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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