Written by Rob Nagus, Director
Wow! What a year we’ve had at Hillel UofT! It was a year of growth, change, and meaning as Hillel UofT continues to redefine the way we think about Jewish engagement on campus.
We started off with a bang. With much support from our student leaders, we started focusing on Frosh Week activities, culminating in our Welcome Back Block Party which took over the corner of Harbord and Huron. We launched our new Frosh team which would plan more events throughout the year. We had a Jewish walking tour of the neighbourhood lead by students who explored the history of Toronto’s historically Jewish Kensington Market. We had Challah Baking for Rosh Hashanah and our first ever Rosh Hashanah dinner on campus. We revamped how we do Shabbat dinners entirely based on the direction of a group of students who helped make the dinners warmer, more inviting, and more meaningful. Jewish learning was happening all over the place with help from Rabbi Greenberg and the JLIC and of course, our very own Rabbi Julia who started the “Jewish Crash Course” which was a weekly learning session for people with little to no prior Jewish knowledge. Our multi-faith work was tremendous with several events organized with the Multi-Faith Centre on campus on topics such as traditional garb and religion to issues surrounding gender identity. Our holiday parties were better than ever, most notably our Hanukkah party which featured a performance by UofT’s own Klezmer band.
In between all of that there was a Shabbaton, a Model Knesset, trivia nights, a parlour discussion with local professors about Jewish women and body image, and the return of our famous nightly dinner program, Allen’s Table (thank you Berg family.)
On top of multiple programs each week covering a diverse range of topics and interests, we also used our 2017 On One Foot proceeds to redesign our space on the first floor. A new study area, a living room for relaxing, a fancy tea and coffee station all resulted in more students spending their free time in our space, which meant new people meeting each other, new connections formed, and a stronger Jewish community.
Finally, this was the first year of our new leadership structure and engagement strategy, the Jewish Social Entrepreneurs (JSEs). Our 40+ JSEs created programming, provided input, learned together and grew together. It was an amazing start to the program and we can’t wait to see what the JSEs focus on next year in version 2.0.
It has been a ton of fun watching this Hillel grow and it has been a truly meaningful experience for all involved. We hope you enjoy the summer and we can’t wait to see you again in the fall.