Written by: Sarah Springer and Nathaniel Katz
There is no question that this year was hard, and undoubtedly harder for some than others. Last March, almost overnight the entire world changed. Hillel, like most others, wasn’t ready. What we held as the base of our organization, putting on programming for students at Queen’s, could no longer be done as it had been for almost 80 years. We didn’t know how we could continue to run events, and importantly weren’t even sure if students would continue to care and trust Hillel.
Our first task, recruiting our executive and student leaders was difficult. It took time and effort to convince students that they could trust us and that we, as presidents, would be here as supports all along the way. Our next task, also a challenging one, was to understand the role Hillel could provide for the greater student body in the new socially-distant and lonely world. We returned to our core goal, a goal that has allowed us to survive longer than most organizations on campus – to care for and support all Jewish student, regardless of how they connect to Judaism, their views, interests or beliefs. Over the Fall semester, Hillel student leaders and staff met with students for coffee, walks, and virtually. We recognized the importance of checking in, and ensuring students remained safe and comfortable during this challenging time. As the semester went on, our image on campus grew and new students, looking for a way to connect with others, came out to our events, signed up for our give-aways, and showed us their support. Winter semester, despite the cold temperatures, darkness, and isolation, went by in a flash. We continued to meet students, both new and old, and continued to run programs in creative and innovative ways. Hillel passed a resolution through the AMS on Holocaust Education Week, and we connected with campus groups and organizations to begin building relationships and addressing issues of antisemitism.
We’ve seen how much Jewish students care about the work Hillel has done and how they recognize the important of having a strong Jewish community on campus. We’ll be staying on in our positions, as Co-Presidents, for another year because we know that there is much more to accomplish on campus. We’re looking forward to emerging from the pandemic stronger and more resilient, starting to put on in-person programming and events once again, and continuing to support students as we always have. To our student leaders, staff, and most importantly to the greater Jewish community, thank you for your support this year. Your commitment and passion has allowed for Hillel to succeed and Jewish life on campus to thrive into the years to come.
Sarah Springer and Nathaniel Katz
Co-Presidents, Queen’s Hillel