Hillel Ottawa is proud to be the home away from home for Jewish students. We provide a safe pluralistic environment where students can explore, question, discuss and find answers relating to their Jewish identity, relationship with Israel, and Jewish brethren around the world. Above all, we are here when students need a place to be themselves or need a sympathetic ear.
Our on- and off-campus activities focus on two main areas: Jewish social engagement and Israel advocacy initiatives.
On the social side, we have had more than 40 unique activities so far this school year, including a kick-off barbecue that fed more than 250 new and returning students, and a Chanukah ball attended by more than 200.
Our biweekly Shabbat dinners build community and allow Jewish students to socialize. At our two biggest Shabbat dinners, we hosted more than 80 students! We have also increased our reach to serve graduate students and those studying medicine and law with programming tailored to their needs.
We are already preparing for Passover. As in previous years, we are making arrangements for students staying in town to get kosher food and meals, and we are matching interested students with generous hosts in the community so they can attend seders.
On the political side, one of our bigger events this year was the Parliamentary Wine and Cheese, where more than 100 politically engaged students celebrated the strong bond and shared values between Canada and Israel with members of Parliament from all of the major parties. We strive to teach students to be informed and show them that participation in the democratic process is the only way to ensure their concerns will be heard.
On the advocacy side, our work is constant. A dedicated team of student leaders works diligently with our Hillel staff, Scott Goldstein and Noah Borer, to provide students with a safe environment on campus.
Our well-trained student leaders work on three initiatives. One is pro-Israel advocacy. We run information tables on campus, host guest speakers and create other engagement opportunities to educate all students about Israel. Our second effort surrounds monitoring anti-Israel activities on campus and taking action when appropriate. The third, and very important, area is our effort to build bridges with other student groups. Over time, this has been quite successful. For example, we hosted young Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, and they met with student leaders from Muslim and Arab groups for meals and discussion. This type of activity is the best way to develop mutual awareness and respect.
This year, we decided to implement a new timeframe for student leadership positions in order to maintain momentum from year to year. The new leadership was installed in January to allow student leaders to work as a team through the winter term, and prepare for September. We welcome Shelby Levine as citywide president and thank Arielle Ellis – now the “Campus Life” columnist for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin – for her work over the past year-and-a-half.
Finally, remember when you give to the Jewish Federation of Ottawa Annual Campaign, your gift supports agencies such as Hillel Ottawa. However, our modest budget also requires independent fundraising. Gifts can be made online through our secure system linked to www.hillelottawa.ca/invest-in-us.
We wish you a happy and kosher Passover, and, if you’d like to host a student at your seder, contact Scott Goldstein at email@example.com or 613-236-2345, ext.1.