Final Reflection of the Guelph Hillel Year

Before reflecting on the impact of Hillel this year, I must share an important observation. I’m convinced that one of the most unique Jewish communities exists at UofG. I know, I’m born and raised in none other than the classic Toronto Jewish community, but my arguably sheltered background is slightly stabilized by experiences abroad and articles I read on various communities. After diminishing some of the stereotypes associated with being a “Toronto Jew”, I hope to have some validity when I note that diversity within a typical Jewish community isn’t one of the tribe’s attributes, albeit a few exceptions. There are usually the same schools we all attend, stores shopped at, areas lived in, camps attended and even similarities in our heritage and family dynamics. I argue that Guelph, Ontario is certainly one of the exceptions. The Jewish community at UofG comprises of a wide range of personalities, backgrounds and stories. Whether it’s the trendy Jewish students from CHAT and CHARH who wanted to escape the bubble for undergrad, or students from smaller communities such as the Bahamas, the UofG Jewish community includes diverse students with passions that differ from the norm. With unique programs that aren’t at other schools per se, and living in this interesting city of both farm and city life, the Jewish people of Guelph are simply an exceptional crowd filled with character and insight. I deliver this observation proudly and admirably.

Without the special and distinctive set of people, Guelph Hillel would not have been the ride that it was this year. With so much diversity, at least one of the most within the Ontario universities, one of the few common traits we could connect with together was our Jewish identity. With this commonality, we made an enormous impact on each other and on the campus as a whole. We learned from one another and became closer during simple annual events such as Trivia Night or Bagel Lunch, and influenced the general campus community immensely during Holocaust Education Week as well as Multifaith events or holiday fundraisers. The success was undeniable as a result of such a hard-working executive, making records such as largest Hillel Shabbat dinner in Guelph and highest level of attendance for a University event (aside from graduation) at the Holocaust speaker night. Such a diverse community also involved numerous challenges, such as creating events that appealed to such varying interests, opposing opinions on Israel, and dissimilar religious observations. The need to collaborate was therefore even greater, and learning to overcome such differences was integral to create a successful year for all. The 2015/2016 school year was definitely one for the books. Beyond just our Montreal versus Toronto pickle contest, it’s been an unforgettable year for Hillel at Guelph.