McMaster-Ryerson Joint Hillel Shabbaton

Written by Rebecca Buckler, VP of 1st Year Engagement

This month, McMaster and Ryerson Hillel came together for a highly anticipated inter-campus Shabbaton. Hillel members from both campuses spent Shabbat in Hamilton learning, reflecting, singing and of course eating! The Shabbaton was especially eye opening and unique as we were able to gain perspective from the other campus’ experiences, the individual Hillel members’ backgrounds and even from personal snapshots into our Israel Fellows’ lives in Israel.

The Shabbaton began with Friday night services and a delicious meal at Temple Anshe Shalom, where Ryerson students experienced a typical McMaster Hillel Shabbat dinner. Students from both campuses led the various blessings on the meal. Following dinner, first year students Zev Winegust (McMaster), Gaby Shubat (Ryerson) and Elyanna Wenner (Ryerson) led a rousing Tisch with plenty of well- loved songs (Tisch is the German word for a table, and the activity involves a group of people sitting around a table singing Jewish songs). At the end of the evening, McMaster students headed to their respective homes with their Ryerson guests.

Shabbat day began with an alternative service led by Ryerson Hillel Interim Associate Director, Emily. One aspect of the programming involved putting our Jewish values into a ranked list- not an easy task. After a tasty dairy lunch which included Hillel’s signature bagels, Sarah Levy (McMaster) led a fun icebreaker, where McMaster and Ryerson students were paired up and got to know each other. Next, Israel Fellows Ayinadis and Or, discussed their experiences as Israeli citizens. Or talked about her service in the IDF during a volatile time in the country, and Ayinadis told her story of immigrating to Israel from Ethiopia as a young child. The floor was turned to us students, when we were asked what Israel meant to each of us and what images embodied our relationship to the country.

Following this discussion, Shirel Moll (Ryerson) and Zev Winegust (McMaster) each led a session about finding our relationship to G-d through various media. Shirel’s session dove into the world of reality TV, as she compared our relationship to God with the romantic relationships cultivated in the Bachelor. It was definitely a unique way to gain deep meaning from the seemingly shallow show. Zev’s session discussed finding G-d through music and within song lyrics. We examined three different songs and explored the different ways that each musician defined his or her own relationship to G-d.

Gaby Shubat (Ryerson) led the next session. He facilitated a fascinating conversation about leaders’ and followers’ roles and their dependence on each other. The shabbaton ended with a sushi dinner, more singing, and a ruach (spirit) filled musical Havdalah.

I was thrilled to get to experience a Shabbat with both my fellow peers from McMaster and with students from Ryerson. Shabbat is such a special time to reflect and connect with others. For this reason, this shabbaton was such an amazing opportunity to learn more about what Hillel does on another campus and hear about innovative programming that other students have planned. As the VP First Years at McMaster, I was especially proud to see so many first-year students taking initiative, running and leading extremely sophisticated and thought- provoking sessions. The future looks very bright and I am so excited to experience many more Hillel Shabbatons together!