Hillel and CIJA connecting Jewish students to their campus before school starts

by Jay Solomon

(CIJA) – Within our community, much attention is paid to the antics of a relatively small number of fringe anti-Israel campus activists. Unfortunately, far less attention is given to the extensive campus resources, programs and opportunities available for Jewish students.

Effective campus advocacy depends on a well-equipped, proud, and committed community of Jewish students. If we do not connect first-year students to the many resources offered on campus, we fail to give them the support they need when they inevitably encounter anti-Israel rhetoric.

The inaugural Going Somewhere? The Canadian Guide to Jewish Campus Life (available at www.gettheguide.ca) provides critical information about Jewish life on 19 campuses across Canada as well as tips on how Jewish students can make the most of their first-year experience. Prepared by Hillels across Canada, in partnership with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), this new guide aims to provide otherwise hard-to-find campus information to recent high school grads in our community.

Aside from issues of Jewish and Israel advocacy on campus, for young Canadians nearing high school graduation, choosing which university to attend is not easy. There are so many questions to consider: What do I want to study? What do I ultimately want to be when I grow up? What kind of extra-curricular programs are available? Where will I live? Is there a vibrant community through which I can meet new people? Will I have fun?

For parents, there are still more questions: What sort of support structures are available? How far away from home will my child really be? And, for all the Jewish parents out there, the all-important question: will my child meet a nice Jewish boy or girl?

Some of these questions (save for the nice Jewish spouse one) are answered in Maclean’s annual university guide. But to help Jewish families with this important decision, Going Somewhere? takes things one step further.

The guide includes campus-by-campus details on everything including Jewish student population numbers, access to kosher food, Jewish studies programs, academic exchanges with Israeli schools, and popular housing locations for Jewish students — as well as Jewish social opportunities, such as holiday parties hosted by Hillel. Going Somewhere? also provides information about Jewish and pro-Israel campus advocacy opportunities, such as paid internships offered by Hillel.

Hillel and CIJA offer programs, resources, and professional staff to ensure that every Jewish student can succeed on campus, become effective advocates, and further develop in their Jewish identity. Going Somewhere? consolidates relevant information in an easy-to-read guide that every Canadian Jewish family should read.

My friend and colleague, Marc Newburgh, CEO of Hillel Ontario, the largest regional Hillel system in the world, noted this is “the first coast-to-coast Canadian guide to Jewish life on campus.” He went on to say that “for Jewish students, the university experience provides a unique opportunity to connect with their community, shape their Jewish identity for the long term, and develop skills by engaging in Jewish and pro-Israel advocacy. Our hope is that Going Somewhere? will prove a valuable resource for students and their families.”

“CIJA is pleased to have contributed to Going Somewhere? – an outstanding new guide to Jewish life at Canadian universities. As the only Jewish student organization with staff on the ground at schools across the country, Hillel offers an unparalleled window into everything Jewish on campus,” said Judy Zelikovitz, Vice President of University and Local Partner Services at CIJA. “The practical advice and campus-by-campus details in Going Somewhere? make required reading for every Jewish student as they consider their options for the fall.”

I am proud to have co-produced Going Somewhere? and I encourage every Canadian Jewish family to check it out. You can download your free copy at www.gettheguide.ca.

Jay Solomon is Associate Director, Campus, at CIJA – the advocacy agent of Canada’s Jewish Federations. This article originally appeared on Jay’s Blog at the Times of Israel.


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