Guelph Hillel’s iEngage Hartman Institute Trip to Israel

Guelph Hillel’s iEngage Hartman Institute Trip to Israel

Due to the generosity of our donors, 10 Guelph Hillel student leaders participated on the Hartman Institute trip to Israel this past winter break to explore the topics of Jewish peoplehood, unity, and international Jewish relationships in our world today. 

Ariel, Guelph Hillel student leader and participant on the trip, took the time to express his gratitude and appreciation for the incredible experience.

A Letter of Thanks For the Hartman Israel Trip in December 2019

By Ariel, Jewish student leader at Guelph University  

“Find community in a cacophony of voices, not an echo chamber of tribalism.” 

This particular line has been replaying in my mind ever since I heard it on the trip. Community is felt on many scales, from as small as my close circle of family and friends, to as large as the Canadian, North American, and International Jewish communities. For me, community is the group of people with which one chooses to surround themselves and identify with, and for these four years, my community is the family I’ve chosen to surround myself with at Guelph Hillel. 

In Hillel, we often talk about defining our community as a tent, setting core values as our immobile pegs that ground us and provide a foundational framework upon which we lay the tarp – the flexible and ever-reshaping borders that definite and redefine boundaries for our community based on shifting ideologies and expectations. The tent has open flaps on all side, inviting anyone to come inside from any direction, and join in the displacement of the tarp and the updating of the community dogmas. However, the tent is not adapting and malleable to anyone who enters and tries to remove one of the pegs, challenging the very core values on which our community exists. Excluding people who disagree or challenge our communities’ core values might sometimes feel like the creation and reaffirmation of an echo chamber, a secluded group who neglect diversity in opinion because it appears to fundamentally conflict with their own.

There are times when I feel afraid or uncertain of what I might do or say in the event that someone tries to dismantle one of my core values – my Judaism, my Zionism, my drive for inclusivity for myself and other peripheral persons – and while there is no way to predict what I would say or do should the moment arise, the best I can do to prepare and seek constant learning and growth; something I was able to so immensely undergo during my time at the Hartman Institute. 

Exploring perspectives different than my own, challenging my own stances and creeds and emerging more solidified in my identity and beliefs, and doing so all within the context of Jewish student leaders motivated to learn and grow as a greater Jewish community was insight and evidence that total pluralism is possible and achievable, without sacrificing any grounding pegs of the tent, any core values of the group. From my time in Israel this past December I take with me more than just the multitudes of lessons learned and moments of growth undergone, but also the vision, the experience, and the feeling of what a small pluralistic Jewish community can be, who’s members might differ quite extremely in certain opinions and stances, creating a cacophony of voices, but who are still united by core values – by their drive to see the Jewish community flourish, their desire to achieve the absolute best for Israel and its inhabitants, and by their willingness to learn and maintain open-mindedness towards the adopted family that is the community within which we find ourselves. I cannot thank you enough for allowing me the opportunity to experience this firsthand and bring this feeling back to our Guelph Hillel community, with the drive and inspiration to further implement this vision here too.

With deepest appreciation and gratitude,

Guelph Coffee House 2019!

Guelph Coffee House 2019!

Written by: Noam Kamm

Last week we had our first Coffee House of the year at the Hillel House! Coffee House is a classic Guelph Hillel event; an evening filled with talented performers, auctions and baked goods (all by our very own students)! It’s a fun night of fun and is successful every year. This year, Coffee House is our kick-off to Out of Sync, Hillel’s annual fundraiser. Students can auction off rides, tutoring, handmade drawings, Hebrew lessons, etc. All the money raised from Coffee House and from our fundraiser for Out of Sync goes towards all the programming we love so much, like weekly Bagel Lunch, Friday night dinners, Pizza in the Hut, First Year Sushi Dinners, and so much more, including nights like this! Want to see more from the performances? Check out our Instagram story highlights!

Stay tuned for more about our Out of Sync fundraiser!

Big Fish Little FYSH

Big Fish Little FYSH

Hello! Our names are Hannah Finkelstein and Jess Pink and we are the VPs of Engagement for Guelph Hillel. Throughout the school year, we get to meet tons of new friends and welcome them to our Hillel family. For any event that we have, our number one goal is to make sure every student feels comfortable walking into the room. We reach out to students, have coffee, and introduce people to one another. We often make a meeting time on campus so students can walk together as a group to the event. Our main priority at the beginning of the year is to engage first year students and integrate them into Hillel and general Guelph life.

First year students have the chance to sign up for the Big Fish Little FYSH (First Year Student at Hillel) Peer Mentorship Program. This allows first years to meet older students that are part of our Hillel community and from their academic program. Big Fish help guide their buddy through course selection, killer Chem, and those tough assignments. Throughout the year, and even after, the Little Fysh and Big Fish meet and keep in touch. All the Big Fish and Little Fysh get competitive on who is the best pair!

This year, we kicked off our semester with some funny ice breakers. Teams had to blindly eat pretzels off of string and shave balloons covered in shaving cream. It was really funny and everyone got to know each other in a comfortable environment. Bonds were created that continue to flourish throughout the year.

After the Big Fish Little Fysh event, we had our Welcome Back Mixer. By having our first year event prior to the big party, we were able to encourage more first year students to come, making it feel less intimidating walking into the room. Now these new students feel at home as they have met so many friendly faces. It was so amazing to see first years interacting with upper year students, which is typical of our community.

Throughout the night, so many introductions and friendships were formed – people finding connections every which way. We are so excited for all the upcoming events this year and we hope to meet even more friendly faces!

Jessica & Hannah