Returning to Guelph after such a long time away felt amazing, however, the pandemic changed the way in which myself and my roommates interacted and reached out to the Jewish community. The first Shabbat back we signed up to receive a Shabbox from Hillel, a fun way of sharing a Shabbat dinner all wrapped up and dropped off on our doorstep to enjoy. The experience of the Shabbox allowed us to take time out of our busy schedules to set the table, put out the food, and invite new and old friends over for a socially distanced meal. This brought us all together as we attended a Zoom call to listen to the prayers and catch up with old friends, as well as make a night in which we all ate dinner together as a chevrah, a community. It seems like a simple enough concept; challah, grape juice, candles, cookies and a meal ready to go. However, what it really provided to us was a sense of community and normalcy. In other words, it allowed us to bring in the Shabbat in a way that we wouldn’t have done otherwise being on our own and away from family. The Shabbox allowed us to retain and strengthen our ties to the Guelph Jewish community through Hillel and helped make our night special by bringing back the sense of belonging that we all receive from Hillel events and Shabbat dinners whether it be online or in person.
Leah, University of Guelph ’22
When I first arrived on campus a few weeks ago, I worried about how I could become a member of the Jewish community while we are all physically apart. However, from day one, Guelph Hillel has proven that community means so much more than simply being physically together. Through Hillel’s virtual events, I have been able to meet other Jewish gryphons and started to build relationships with others in the community. Living in residence, I have been missing the feeling of “family” associated with Shabbat dinners. When I received a Shabbox from Hillel last Friday and took part in a virtual pre-Shabbat event with the community, I was able to feel the sense of “family” and belonging I’ve been missing. In a way, Hillel has become my “family” on campus. While we may be physically apart, I am grateful for how committed Hillel is to maintaining the sense of community.
Jared, University of Guelph ’24