Hillel Tu b’Shvat event in Halifax draws 125 students

Hillel Tu b’Shvat event in Halifax draws 125 students

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Liane Cloutier
Hillel Halifax board member Liane Cloutier prepares a terrarium as part of a Tu b’Shvat program. JOEL JACOBSON PHOTO

Hillel House in Halifax opened its doors to close to 125 creative students for Tu b’Shvat.

At an event co-sponsored by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and JNF, the students made terrariums, with most of the “ingredients” provided at a discount by local merchants.

Liane Cloutier, a Hillel board member, co-ordinated the three-hour Dalhousie University event in Feb. 12.

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“We worked with the student-operated Urban Garden Society of Dalhousie, whose members prepared pamphlets letting us know how to build and care for the terrariums,” said the third-year marine biology student from Kitchener, Ont.,.

“We have shared values with so many other societies on campus, and this event helps us get Hillel known through the university community.”

She said Hillel has a better relationship with others on campus because of reaching out and inviting non-Jewish students to Shabbat dinners, which are held regularly at Hillel House, and other celebratory activities.

Cloutier led the terrarium-making by first placing small stones and pebbles at the bottom of a glass container, followed by earth and sand, and then various herbal seeds, plus cuttings from succulent plants.

“We bought, very cheaply, about 150 containers – vases, mason jars, bowls – and then accumulated the seeds, plants and soil also at major discounts. There is no cost for the students to make a terrarium, which they can then take back to their residences,” she said.

“Studies have shown terrariums improve the health, mood and productivity of students,” Cloutier added.

Craig Fox, director of Jewish student life for Hillel Atlantic Canada, said he has seen attendance at Hillel events jump by 400 per cent this year.

“We had 125 attend [this event]. It’s the most people that have ever been through Hillel House at a single event in its close to a decade of existence.”