By Benjamin Wexler
Julia Langleben is a second-year Pure and Applied Science student and the new co-president of Hillel at Dawson College. We connected over Zoom to talk about her High Holidays and the club’s plans for the rest of the year.
A quick guide for the general student body: The High Holidays normally take place in the fall, and might be the reason your Jewish classmates are particularly penitent and/or exhausted in that time. They include Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and are a reflective period centring renewal, judgment, and repentance. The shofar is a musical instrument made of a ram’s horn that is blown on Rosh Hashanah, and a dvar Torah is similar to a sermon.
What did you do for the High Holidays?
Hillel did one event, for Rosh Hashanah. We brought in Rabbi Scheier of Shaar Hashomayim synagogue to blow the shofar on a Zoom meeting. People joined to hear the shofar and a short dvar Torah about everything that's been going on lately. It was really nice, we ended up with around 40 people.
Normally, my family has a big family dinner, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen. We had family dinner by ourselves. Synagogue was strange — we were outdoors, and every single chair was 6 feet apart. I couldn’t sit next to my mother, we had to have 6 feet in between us. They played a recording of the service. The whole thing was new for me and for many other people, but it was nice to spend time with family — usually we don't get that much quality family time.
How were your reflections on the High Holidays impacted by these changes?
It was a very different day. The fast-day on Yom Kippur felt especially different. You could see the faces of people on the Zoom call, and everyone looked a little less joyous than they might have had the event been in person. But it was nice for people to have that aspect of Judaism, since many can’t go to synagogue at the moment.
What are your responsibilities as co-president of the Hillel at Dawson?
I plan on all of the meeting agendas for my executive team; I communicate with presidents at other CEGEPs for inter-CEGEP events; and I oversee our executive team, our advertising, and the social media content for Hillel at Dawson. It's mostly overseeing people, thinking of events, and then planning them.
Has the club running experience been as you expected, or have there been surprises?
It’s mostly as I expected, but it's a lot of work. I expected it to be slightly less work. There are time commitments, and meetings, making sure that everybody is doing what they're supposed to be doing and everything is on time. But I really enjoy the work, and I love my position.
What should we anticipate from Hillel this semester?
We're hoping to have a few more events. On Sunday, October 18th, we’re having a career night with Jewish Dawson alumni from four different universities, in four different fields. They talk about the application processes and what Jewish life is like at the university.
Then early in November we have the Partner Fair. We're going to bring in Jewish organizations to talk to students about volunteer opportunities and internships. I actually meant to ask you about this after — we plan to feature some Dawson clubs with Jewish students, to get more people engaged with the clubs.
You know nothing gets me stoked like repping the Plant. Last question: what is the best background you've seen in your Zoom classes?
Somebody played the entire Shrek movie sped up in their background. I was very impressed with that. I liked that very much.
Students interested in joining Dawson Hillel events should visit the @HillelMTL Instagram page to see features of the different executive members, and different events coming up for different CEGEPs.