A very Jewish college campus guide

A very Jewish college campus guide

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Going Somewhere? The Canadian Guide to Jewish Campus Life was published by the Centre for Jewish and Israel Affairs (CIJA)

If you’re wondering where to buy kosher food at the University of Alberta or how to find the Hillel in Halifax, a new guide published by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) has the answer.

The 54-page magazine entitled Going Somewhere? The Canadian Guide to Jewish Campus Life was designed to provide information not found in other university guides, said Matthew Godwin, CIJA’s associate director of university and provincial government relations.

The guide, available online, covers Jewish life at over 20 universities, with information about the number of Jewish students on campus, availability of kosher food, where Jewish students tend to live and general student information like the best pubs to frequent and noteworthy social events and courses to take. The guide was produced collaboratively by CIJA and Hillel Ontario, with Hillels across the country contributing information about their respective campuses.

The guide also includes essays on study and travel opportunities in Israel, tips on how to get involved in student government and what Jewish life is like on a small campus.

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Marc Newburgh, Hillel Ontario’s CEO said he was proud to publish the first coast-to-coast Canadian guide to Jewish life on campus.

“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,” he said.

“We’d seen the United States had a project like this ongoing for a long time and it was something families in the U.S. had come to expect. … For us there’s no reason the Canadian context can’t have a similar resource,” Godwin added.

This issue is just the first in what will be an annual publication. In future, a wider range of schools, including community colleges and smaller universities, will likely be included, he said.

“Jewish students are going further afield, but the reality of going further afield doesn’t necessarily mean not having a Jewish life and not having a Jewish experience.”

What the guide does not tackle however, is the atmosphere for Jewish students on campus, and the level of anti-Israel activity, although this is something that is of concern to parents and students Godwin said.

“The question was is there a way to include that kind of information and do it in a way that is a fair representation of the university and is fair to the Hillels that are there and the advocates that are doing good work on the campuses. Maybe as time goes on, we’ll be able to come up with a framework to do that.”

The guide has been downloaded about 500 times and Godwin anticipates that it will be accessed more frequently in August and September as students head to university.

“It’s not just a guide for Jewish families with respect to choosing which university … but it’s also something we want students themselves to take with them.

“I have this vision of first-year students showing up at Western or UBC with this guide in their book bag thinking ‘I want to get involved …  How do I make a connection with respect to Jewish life here on campus?’ I really hope this guide becomes that first step for students.” 

Download a copy of the guide here. A print version is also available.