University is a very important time in the development of one’s ideas and beliefs. For many students, it is the first time away from home. Even for hometown students, it is a time to form new relationships. Therefore, our community puts much importance in providing services to Jewish students.
Think of yourself in a new city or environment. You don’t know anyone in your class, even though your class is large. You are assigned a roommate, whom you have only just met. You must feed yourself, and even maybe do laundry! All this is overwhelming. You need a place that feels safe and secure and this is what Hillel aims to do.
When my oldest child went away to university, she called home that first Sunday. She said her roommates had spent the weekend feeling homesick. But, in her case, she had gone to the Hillel House, and went to the director’s for Shabbat meals. It dawned on her that being Jewish meant being part of a special club that allows you to find kinship wherever you go.
At Hillel Ottawa, we strive to provide students with a broad Jewish experience. This includes social events, drop-by-for-lunch events, and Shabbat dinners. As well, our staff is always there to offer an ear to students trying to get their thoughts together on an issue, and to help our student board fulfil its vision. We even deliver meals to students under the weather.
Hillel provides a safe environment for students to discuss Israel and learn about it. The student leaders on our Israel Awareness Committee provide information to students on campus about the complexity of a democratic Israel.
As a smaller Jewish community, we are always looking to grow. We would like our out-of-town students to consider Ottawa as a place to set down roots. For this, we are looking for mentors in all professions, and with knowledge of the civil service, to donate a little of their time to advise or have coffee with an interested student. If you are interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-236-2345.
The funding for our activities comes from three sources: the Jewish Federation of Ottawa; the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, our national advocacy arm; and, donations from our supporters. We thank our funders for their support. However, I feel the students deserve the best we can give them and, for that, we need your support. It is only through increased donor generosity that we will be able to continue to grow and increase the quantity and quality of our events.
Our success is showing. We started a wine and cheese cocktail event several years ago where students got to meet and hear members of Parliament from the Liberal, Conservative and New Democratic Parties. The first year, 50 students attended. This year, we had 200. Our Friday night dinners used to average around 25. Now we get 60 students.
At Hillel Ottawa, we are currently gearing up to have meals ready for the students for the week of Passover. I end by wishing you and yours a Happy Passover.