Every September, students pour onto campus excited to take part in the adventure of university life. Young minds ready to absorb and be moulded into great critical thinkers open themselves up to new and exciting experiences.
For parents, a son or daughter leaving home for university can be bittersweet. We know they are going to get a great education and trust they will have character-building experiences along the way. This is our children’s first foray into the “real world” and we hope the challenges they come across will not prove to be too difficult. For Jewish parents, these bittersweet feelings are compounded by the additional concerns we have for our children’s continued connection with their Jewish heritage and the fear of their being singled out because of those Jewish roots.
University is home to a diverse student population and it’s difficult for the administration to serve the unique demands of each student. That’s where Hillel Ottawa has an important role to play. Hillel is your pluralistic representative organization for Jewish life on our city’s university and college campuses.
Hillel is very sensitive to the concerns of parents and the needs of Jewish students. Parents know that there is an organization with strong professional staff and trained student leaders committed to creating a safe space for everyone on campus by combating anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. Students know there is always a Jewish home away from home with Hillel, and that there is an official voice for Israel educating on the realities of the socio-political situation in the region.
I always say that, when we don’t hear about bad things happening on campus, Hillel Ottawa is doing its job. Jewish students feel safe on campus and know where to turn if there is an incident or week that targets them because of their beliefs or political opinion. Thanks in part to Hillel’s work with the broader student population, negative experiences like these occur less and are dealt with correctly when they do. Hillel always hopes for the best but plans for the worst when it comes to issues on campus. This approach creates a positive atmosphere where not everything is a crisis, but we are ready if one arises. It is all part of a broader effort to be the Jewish voice on campus that brings people together and promotes dialogue and understanding.
My message to parents and our community is whether it’s a Shabbat dinner, bagel lunch discussion group, Israeli Wine and Canadian Cheese with members of Parliament or a Chanukah Ball, students will find a way to engage with Hillel. These meaningful engagement opportunities and relationships foster a strong, lasting connection with Judaism and Israel within students while they grow intellectually, spiritually and socially.
Hillel Ottawa receives funding from the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, CIJA – our national advocacy partner – and from generous parents and supporters like you. Your donations are a key component of our ability to give our students the experience they deserve. Please consider making a gift by visiting hillelottawa.ca, or by contacting Hillel Ottawa Executive Director Scott Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-236-2345.