Toys Worth Menschioning

by | Oct 19, 2018 | Hillel Ontario | 0 comments

Kids may have become more tech-savvy and appear uninterested in toys these days, but most of us remember playing with toys – especially during the Jewish holidays! But just because we’re all grown up doesn’t mean we can’t reminisce or spin the dreidel once in a while! Ranging from Jewish editions of classic toys and board games, to traditional toys for the holidays, here are some Jewish toys that will bring you back to childhood or maybe even spark a new tradition.

Mensch on a Bench

Although it’s not a traditional Chanukah toy, this Mensch on a Bench toy was created in hopes of sparking new Chanukah traditions following the Elf on a Shelf craze we saw years ago. The concept even survived an episode of Shark Tank and has been a growing new tradition ever since.

 


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Dreidel

We’re all familiar with the Dreidel, the quintessential toy we spin at Chanukah as kids (and adults!). Although it’s a Chanukah tradition to celebrate and just have fun with family, you can even get competitive and join a Dreidel tournament now.

 

Tefillin Barbie

Maybe we didn’t grow up with Tefillin Barbie, but Barbies are one of the most iconic doll toys of all time. If you ever felt like you were missing out on owning a Jewish Barbie, now someone actually makes Tefillin Barbies, and handmade Barbie-sized Torah’s for those who want to keep their Barbie collection going.

 

 

Plastic Toy Shofar

Plastic Shofars were and still are a fun way to join in on the high holiday celebrations as a kid and make some noise. You can even get a plush Shofar, which might be easier on the ears – sorry parents!

 

Groggers

Groggers are the ubiquitous noisemaker used on Purim among all the colourful masks and flowers. You can make your own as part of the celebration and make some noise in Purim, but the classic wooden grogger is the original toy of the holiday.

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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