Written By: Natalie Urbach
Since I first arrived at Western as a nervous and excited first year student, I was in awe of what Hillel was able to do for Jewish students on campus. From the welcome back barbecue, to the wide array of speakers brought in throughout the year, I felt that Hillel did a great job at engaging Jewish students. I was eager to get involved with Hillel, applied for a position as a first year executive, and the following year, applied for VP Jewish life. During those two years, I saw the great potential this organization had for programming, education, and engagement, and did my best to share Hillel’s mission with as many of my peers as possible. However it wasn’t until last March when I was elected president that I was able to truly see the incredible impact Hillel has on Western’s students.
Looking back on this year, I am blown away by what our organization has been able to achieve in the seemingly short time since September. We began our year with a strong focus on easing the first years’ transition into university life. After move-in day, dedicated student leaders showed up in every residence hall with packages containing food, drinks, and other items to help the first year students get settled. First semester passed in a whirlwind of new Hillel programming, including our group workout classes (Shvitz with Hillel), our monthly challah bakes and sales whose proceeds went to supporting the London Jewish community, (Bake a Change), and many brand new Holiday-focused programs that brought the comfort of the high holidays at home to London, Ontario. One event highlight was our first ever Hillel coffee house where students had the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of an audience. Our Shabbat across London—where students had the opportunity to host others at their home for Shabbat dinner—was also a huge success, thanks to the hard work of our student leaders. Second semester brought with it lots of interesting programs, including a full Holocaust education week featuring a live testimony from a Holocaust survivor in front of over 200 students. I was, and still am, so impressed with the effort the Hillel leadership has put into the programming this year, and I can’t wait to see all the amazing things they will continue to achieve in the future!
I am so grateful to the rest of the Hillel executive team as well as the staff, who sat through countless meetings to ensure that we succeeded in our mission of supporting every Jewish student at Western. I hope that over this year I was able to leave my mark on Hillel, and that each person who attended any of our events or participated in our programs left feeling that there were people on campus looking out for them. My goal this year was to share Hillel’s message with as many people as possible. I wanted the rest of the students to benefit as much from what Hillel has to offer as I have over my three years at Western. I hope that in the future, Hillel continues to expand its reach to more and more students, and can bring that feeling of comfort and belonging to the entire Western Jewish community.