What does it mean to ReSync?

by | Dec 2, 2020 | Hillel Ontario, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Last year, Hillel Ontario’s Out of Sync highlighted the incredible student talent on all nine university campuses. In addition to an audience of more than 350 community members for the event on February 1st, 2020, the fundraising campaign raised more than $150,000 to support for Jewish students across the province.

But the world has changed dramatically since then. So now, it is time to ReSync – our values, our priorities and our connections to community.

We have seen our students, staff and community members support one another and lift each other up in dark times and we know this is something to celebrate. 

From January 11th to February 7th, 2021, ReSync will highlight the stories of Jewish students across Ontario. You will have the opportunity to ReInvest in the strong Jewish campus communities and ReImagine what our programming on campus can look like. 

Here is what ReSync means to our students, Makayla and Harrison:

ReSync can mean different things to different people, but to me the word ReSync is more of a scenario then an actual definition. The scenario goes like this: you’re trying to reload a website you were on the other day and once you’re on you find out that the company has changed the website and how it works. In this case, the website is the world and we have to relearn a whole bunch of things because there is no going back to the normal we once knew. The new type of normal is going to look like people wearing masks for a long while, social distancing, and online schooling. 

We have entered a new stage in life and not the one of just getting older, but the one where staying home and not going out on the weekend isn’t looked down upon anymore. And staying away from people isn’t considered anti-social but highly encouraged. Hillel is, and has been, amazing at helping us students feel connected with one another and comfortable with this transition of a new way of learning and coping. 

ReSync has been important to me this year because it’s all about coming together and working as a team on a project, which is just another way to keep everyone connected. ReSync allows students to stay connected with staff and our peers on a different level, since we aren’t in our normal work space where students always used to hang out. Besides getting to see people coming together, not physically but virtually, the audience members should be looking forward to a night full of entertainment and enjoyment. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got!

Makayla Goodman, Hillel York

This year university life is undeniably different and poses a challenge to current and incoming university students. One of the greatest challenges for students is to develop their social lives. Prior to the pandemic, random bump-ins with other friends outside the library or yelling “HELLO!!!” across a busy concourse were welcome pleasures to my day. Unfortunately, that can no longer happen. 

ReSync for students at Hillel means to adjust, align or really resynchronize yourself with the changes. Prior to the pandemic, Hillel was always described as our University’s Jewish club with the emphasis on the social aspect. In a time when social interactions are limited and being strained, my Hillel on campus is ReSyncing from its wide-reaching regular events like weekly Bagel Lunches and monthly shabbat dinners to physical-distancing friendly Zoom events such as Shabbox, i.e., Shabbat in a box. 

While Hillel student executive teams are working hard to bring Hillel to every Jewish student no matter where they are, we are ReSyncing to engage as many students as possible through Hillel’s events. This year, ReSync is even more important so that Hillel students have sufficient funding next year to bring back our signature events and ReInvent and innovate their “never-tried before” ideas.

Harrison Levine, Guelph Hillel

Click here to meet the rest of the ReSync Team Leads!

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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