Jewish Life on Campus

Through relevant and meaningful programming, Hillel Ontario provides opportunities for students to explore Judaism and own their Jewish identities while on campus. These experiences promote peer-to-peer leadership and education, and are intentionally designed to be inclusive and pluralistic campus environments. One size does not fit all and there is something available for everyone.

Jewish campus life ranges from smaller initiatives to planning major social events or being part of transformative global travel experiences. For students interested in deeper involvement, Hillel Ontario offers paid internships, executive leadership positions as well as training, conferences, and workshops.  At any Hillel Ontario campus, Jewish students can express their views, values, and opinions at a place they can call home.

A snapshot of what you might expect from your campus Hillel

Education and Jewish Enrichment

Hillel is often best known for offering students a chance to enjoy Shabbat dinners on campus. At Queen’s Hillel, students look forward to regularly joining 150 of their friends to enjoy a traditional Shabbat meal, much of it prepared by a student committee who meets at the Hillel house to cook on Friday afternoons.

At Western Hillel, students can explore Jewish values through small group discussions in the Ask Big Questions program. Additional Jewish learning opportunities are offered on our campuses that explore Jewish values, Jewish identity, Israel and Jewish text. Celebrating Jewish holidays on campus together is a highlight for many students. Whether it’s Sushi in the Sukkah at UofT Hillel, the Into the Light interfaith Channukah event at Ryerson Hillel, or a Purim masquerade party, our events open the door to exploring, learning, connecting and living Jewishly while on campus.

Hillel is also very fortunate to partner with the Orthodox Union/Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU/JLIC) at York, Ryerson, and U of T. JLIC strives to engage and educate Jewish students from varied backgrounds on campus by providing avenues for spiritual development and exploration. By placing warm, friendly, and talented educators on campus, JLIC inspires young adults to take ownership and responsibility for their Jewish lives and Jewish communities.

Holocaust Education Week

Holocaust Education and Awareness week on campus engages both Jewish and non-Jewish members of the campus community in speakers series, panel presentations, and interactive discussions.  By bringing a replicate Cattle Car to campus and curating an exhibit inside, followed by a Survivor sharing their testimony, Guelph Hillel engaged over 1000 members of their campus community in learning about the Holocaust.

Social Justice

It is a core Jewish value to repair the world, and give back to the communities within which you live, work, and study. Every year Hillel York celebrates Channukah at their Canorah event, where they collect canned goods to give away to food banks and shelters.

In 2016, 16 students from across our campuses traveled to Ethiopia for two weeks as part of an “Impact Ethiopia” program.

Social Events

Among the most anticipated events offered are Hillel Formals. Hillel Formals often have a theme and at campuses like Queen’s and Western, the theme is Bar Mitzvah Bash. Students are thrown back in time to music played during their own Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and enjoy memorabilia and photos which helps make this a marquee event of the year. Other opportunities to socialize include weekly Bagel lunches where, at schools like McMaster, students look forward to lunch and the chance to chill, catch up with friends and grab a free bite between classes.

Leadership Training

Fostering student leadership is a priority and we invest in our student leaders throughout the year.  All executive board and committee members take part in leadership skills training at the start of the school year.

This year we witnessed the launch of the Hillel Ontario Student Leadership Council (SLC), which convened about two dozen students from across all nine campuses and served as a forum for student voices and experiences.  Over the course of four meetings, SLC members strengthened inter-campus relationships, engaged in learning on topics from student mental health to Theodore Herzl, and cultivated their leadership skills.  Because each gathering was hosted by a Hillel Ontario board member, participants also had a chance to get to know and interact with our organization’s leadership on a regular basis.  Based on student feedback, we are restructuring the SLC for the coming year and augmenting its effectiveness in bolstering the Hillel Ontario community.

Jewski: The Jewish Russian Israeli Initiative

Jewski is the group for Russian speaking students on campus. It is designed to connect Russian-speaking students to each other as well as to the greater Jewish community on campus. Programs range from paid internships, social and cultural programming, “Novyy god” and holiday celebrations as well as an opportunity to participate in our elite J.Lead Training Program.  Once a Jewski, always a Jewski!