Written by Rob Nagus, Director of Hillel UofT and Miriam Lustig, First Year Student
Sometimes it can be challenging to walk into a Jewish space if you don’t feel you know enough about Judaism to be there. At U of T, we have met with a lot of students who didn’t realize that everyone is welcome at Hillel and that you don’t need a robust Jewish background to join our community and find value in it. In fact, for many students, Hillel can serve as their entry point into Jewish life, learning, and community. With that in mind, Hillel UofT’s Senior Jewish Educator, Rabbi Julia Appel, created a “Jewish Crash Course.” This would be an opportunity for students who do not have extensive knowledge of Judaism and have not participated in a lot of Jewish education to learn about our rich tradition, heritage, ethics, and customs. Hosting two sessions a week to account for our students varied schedules, Rabbi Julia has a large group of regulars who come every week to learn about a different aspect of Judaism. It has been a huge success and has started many of our students on a life long journey of Jewish education and connection. The following is a testimonial from first year student, Miriam Lustig:
“Jewish Crash Course was an eye-opening experience. I grew up in a secular household, so the course gave me the opportunity to explore what it means to live a Jewish life, through learning about everything from life cycle events to kashrut to kabbalah. My favourite class was about holidays, which fell on Purim- it was my first time going to a Megillah reading! Jewish Crash Course has provided a jumping-off point for me to further develop my Jewish identity and engage with the community at Hillel, and I cannot wait to learn more”.