University of Toronto Kosher Forward Campaign

by | Nov 26, 2019 | Press Release | 0 comments

Last week, Hillel UofT experienced a significant incident of antisemitism from the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) in response to a Jewish student’s request for support of Hillel’s Kosher Forward campaign, aimed at bringing kosher food options to campus. A spokesperson for the UTGSU responded to this request by informing the student that this request didn’t align with “the will of the membership” because Hillel is pro-Israel. The UTGSU’s inability to separate the needs of Jewish students on campus from their opinion on the Jewish state was, and remains, deeply concerning and is certainly a form of antisemitism as outlined in the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

Today, representatives from Hillel UofT and Hillel Ontario met with Executive Committee members of the UTGSU to discuss this incident. The spokesperson in question issued an apology to the Jewish graduate student and to the Hillel representatives for their actions and has formally resigned from their position at the UTGSU as a result of this incident. Furthermore, there was discussion about the UTGSU and Hillel UofT co-sponsoring a workshop on antisemitism aimed at educating campus community members about hatred toward Jews and how to be true allies in the fight against it. We hope this discussion will produce positive results in the future.

Following the meeting, the UTGSU issued a formal apology addressing the antisemitic nature of their remarks and outlining steps they will take in the near future to ensure this issue does not repeat itself, including openness to working with Hillel to conduct a workshop on antisemitism for the entire campus community and a willingness to bring forward a motion to support the Kosher Forward campaign. Hillel UofT is grateful for this statement and thanks the UTGSU for taking this issue seriously.

Over the past week, countless media outlets have reported on this incident and there has been a tremendous show of support for Hillel’s Jewish campus locally and globally. Jewish students at UofT have felt this support and are better served when the Jewish community unites together to end the spread of antisemitism on campus. Hillel UofT remains committed to ensuring the safety of our students through the services we provide them every day.

For further inquiries, please contact:
Rob Nagus
Senior Director
Hillel at The University of Toronto

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