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!

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2023

In their research on listening to survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides, Bronwen E. Low and Emmanuelle Sonntag note listeners’ problematic tendencies towards one of two responses.  On the one hand, they can regard the narratives as so unfamiliar and foreign that they must be pushed away as overwhelming, untouchable, and inaccessible.  On the other, the stories can be seen as familiar, to the point that the listener cannot separate their own experiences and emotional response from what they take in.

But another, preferable response exists: Roger I. Simon and Claudia Eppert talk about a “chain of testimony” and suggest that listening imposes a duty on the listener.  Listening to personal testimony at the crossroads of memory and history “imposes particular obligations on those called to receive it – obligations imbued with the exigencies of justice, compassion, and hope that define the horizon for a world yet to be realized.”  In this way, bearing witness and listening to testimony demands a number of actions and responses, including that we “transport and translate stories of past injustices beyond their moment of telling by taking these stories to another time and space where they become available to be heard or seen.”

If we take Simon and Eppert’s charge seriously, as I believe we should, those of us who have been privileged to hear the direct testimony of survivors of the Holocaust.  Their words come not just with the specific knowledge they impart or the emotional impact they have on us – sorrow, anger, fear, horror – but with a duty, an obligation of some kind.  

On many of our campuses, this week is Holocaust Education Week, and this Friday marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Given the significant number of Holocaust survivors and their descendants in Canada, the scheduled events and programs have a personal resonance for many of our students and their families, but their impact can be deep and meaningful for all of us, regardless of who we are and where we come from.  I encourage each of you to make time to participate in this week’s activities and to consider your place in the chain of testimony: what obligation does listening to narratives from the Holocaust place on you, and how do you carry those stories forward in time?

 

Weekly D’var: Shemot

Weekly D’var: Shemot

In this week’s parashah we learn the story of Moses, from his birth, through his flight from and eventual return to Egypt, to the acceptance of his role as leader of the Hebrew people.

After fleeing Egypt, for killing an Egyptian slave master, Moses was living rather peacefully as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The Torah describes for us Moses’s first interaction with G-d upon coming across a bush, “burning with a heart of fire [Exodus 3:3]”. G-d calls out to Moses and requests he take the Jewish people out of Egypt and eventually into the land of Israel. However, Moses argues with G-d, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? Who am I that I should take the Jews out of Egypt? [Exodus 3:11]” After initially refusing four times, Moses eventually agrees to G-ds request, and as we know, the rest is history. But why was Moses so unwilling to take up the position of leader, to the extent that he would argue with G-d? And why was G-d so set on having Moses lead the Jewish people? 

Perhaps the answer can be found through the incident that led to his flight from Egypt, years earlier, when Moses, as mentioned above, killed an Egyptian slave master for beating a Hebrew slave. Immediately, he was met with opposition from some of the Hebrew slaves, “who made you chief and ruler over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? [Exodus 2:14]” Moses felt discouraged and unsure of his ability to lead. However, it seems that G-d saw in Moses, a faithful shepherd, the ability to lead his people from slavery to freedom. Very often in Tanakh, the people that are most worthy to lead are the ones who deny that they are worthy at all. Moses may not appear to be the first choice for a leadership figure, suffering from a speech impediment and lacking charisma; however, Moses possessed certain qualities that made him the ideal leader to bring the Jewish people out of Egypt. We too possess qualities that can lead us to achieve incredible success and realize our full potential. We may often feel unmotivated or unsure of our own capabilities. Instead of feeling discouraged, I believe we can look to Moses who, despite all his doubts, stepped up to the challenge and became the greatest leader in Jewish history. 

Sam Virine
VP of Jewish Life at Hillel Waterloo & Laurier

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