There Is No Hillel Without Israel

by | Sep 2, 2017 | Hillel Ontario, Israel | 0 comments

Visits to Israel, fluency in Hebrew, and historical knowledge of the land and people provide Hillel professionals with the ability to help strengthen a students’ relationship and connection with Israel. To forge and to sustain a durable, meaningful, long lasting relationship with the Jewish-democratic state, Israel must become real and vivid in the lives of our students, and no longer remain a mere distant concept. The one key element that is most important to our Israel education framework is the ability to convey what it’s like to live in modern, today’s Israel. Having Israelis as part of our professional team enables Hillel Ontario to provide students with an authentic and omnipresent view of contemporary Israel. We do this through the Israel Fellows (campus Shlichim) program of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and their Shinshinim program in partnership with UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

In its strategic plan, Hillel Ontario reaffirms the role that Israel plays as part of its organizational mission, vision and strategic priorities, with Israel and Israel engagement a central tenant to students’ Jewish experience on campus, by helping students form a connection to the land, people and nation of Israel in three distinct ways: People-to- People, Immersive Experiences, and  providing relevant Israel Content and Education.

Over the past several years, Hillel Ontario through its partnership with Hillel International, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto have been able to increase the number of campus Shlichim from 1 professional working on 3 university campuses to 7 full- and part-time professionals working across 7 university campuses. This speaks to the success of this initiative whereby students can meet, interact with, and build real relationships with Israelis, have conversations and dialogue about social issues and their impact on their Jewish identity as Jews living abroad, all at the same time having the opportunity to visit and spend time in Israel getting to know the land, people, and culture in an immersive way. With their charismatic presence and engagement skills, the Israel Fellows and Shinshinim have become a focal point for students on campuses across the province, enabling a unique and meaningful insider’s perspective into the everyday life choices and dilemmas of young vibrant Israelis who are pre- and post-army service. Hillel Ontario’s team of Shlichim have built and sustained over 1000 relationships with students, have run hundreds of Israel programming on campus, and have helped hundreds of students go to Israel. Through their amazing work, they are helping forge the relationship that students have with Israel.

We are proud of our partnerships with Hillel International, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. The role these partnerships play, and the resources and support they provide, significantly impacts our ability to engage with students about Israel in a meaningful way on 9 University Campuses across the province.

There are currently more than 90 Shlichim serving under the Israel Fellows program, on more than 100 campuses across North and South America, Europe and the Former Soviet Union.

Lior Cyngiser is the Vice President of Israel Engagement & Education for Hillel Ontario
Mijal Ben Dori is the Canadian Regional Director of the Jewish Agency for Israel

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Annamie Paul Joins Hillel Ontario

Last month Hillel Ontario heard from Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada. After winning the leadership race back in October of 2020, Annamie became the first Black person and first Jewish woman to lead a federal Canadian political party. Since then, she has been speaking to Canadians all across the country, spreading messages of hope and inspiration, during a time where these moments are a rarity. No matter the political orientation of the Zoom attendees of this fireside chat, everyone walked away with a few life lessons up their sleeve.

Here are some of my biggest takeaways. First, Annamie spoke about following your passion, a message that I know many students needed to hear. When I graduated from grade 12, I was constantly asked where I saw myself in five years, ten years, and sometimes even twenty years. Although I was asked with the best intentions, I’ve always felt overwhelming pressure to envision a clear career path. Annamie dispelled this myth by referencing the enjoyment associated with the process of discovering your passion rather than having a final goal in mind, and Annamie’s enthusiasm for human rights through a policy lens has shaped the course of her life. Second, Annamie spoke about the importance of speaking up in the face of injustice. Whether you consider yourself an advocate or not, Annamie highlighted the need to follow your moral compass, never remaining complicit. Following Annamie’s time as the leader of the Green Party, it is clear that she isn’t afraid to use her voice and position to shine light on racism, antisemitism, and sexism. These are two lessons I think everyone can learn from.

Annamie spoke about growing up in Toronto Centre (the riding where she will be running in the next federal election), her career as an international lawyer, and her decision to enter politics. As someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional politician, Annamie referenced about the challenges that she’s faced as a Black, Jewish woman. Racism, antisemitism, and sexism were all constant throughout her leadership campaign, and her six months leading the Green Party. 

Throughout Annamie’s talk, I learned about the importance of elevating voices that have previously gone unheard. In a predominantly white space, Hillel students and staff need to work hard to ensure that Jews of Colour feel welcomed. 

After 45 minutes, the latter half of which consisted of an insightful Q&A, Annamie mentioned that she would love to be invited back to another Hillel Ontario fireside chat. For now, I’ll take Annamie’s lessons with me while looking forward to hearing about all of her accomplishments in a year from now.

  • Skylar Banks, Guelph Hillel
Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaboration Breeds Diversity and Inclusion

Collaborating with other student organizations allows us to diversify the students at our events, build coalitions, establish good rapport with other student groups and broaden the topics of the content that we deliver. 

This past month, we had the privilege of working with the Waterloo and Laurier chapters of Menstruation Redefined, which is committed to helping with the “institutional and social barriers surrounding menstruation that risk the health, well-being, and daily lives of many.” This mission resonated with us at Hillel because we understand the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion for all. These are values that we hold as Jews, and want to embody at Hillel. 

We joined forces to produce a fun evening of trivia and learning. The event allowed us to reach new students, educate others on Jewish practice for those who menstruate, and learn more about Menstruation Redefined’s mission. Collaborative events like this allow us to understand key issues and causes that other student-run campus groups advocate for and to build strong allyships and ensure that we propel Hillel’s values forward, such as inclusion and equity.

Jessica Bloom, HIllel Waterloo Student President
Veronica Grad, Hillel Laurier Student President

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