Jewish Toronto Campus Life

Toronto boasts a large Jewish community with a host of synagogues and numerous kosher establishments from restaurants to bakeries, delis and grocery stores. Torontonians often refer to the Orthodox neighborhoods as “down south” or “up north,” depending on where the location is on Bathurst Street, which runs North through the city. Since the Orthodox student community is almost entirely commuters, campus life is only part of one’s Jewish religious and social life. Therefore, OU-JLIC is very involved both on campus and in the local communities. The Greenbergs teach weekly shiurim on and off campus, organize a monthly guest speaker in a community member’s home, and run innovative social programs, including an annual basketball tournament, cake wars, and skating. The OU-JLIC couple regularly welcomes students into their home; they host a monthly Friday night oneg for students and invite students for meals on Shabbat and chagim. OU-JLIC in conjunction with the Yeshiva University-Torah MiTzion Beit Midrash Zichron Dov coordinate separate beit midrash programs for women and men; students, who learn either at Ulpanat Orot or at Yeshivat Or Chaim, receive a stipend for their involvement in the program.  Additionally, many male students take part in the many shiurim and batei midrash available in the large Toronto Orthodox Jewish community.

York University is located a 20 minutes drive west of the “up north” Orthodox community, and 35 minutes northwest of the “down south” community. The York Hillel, located within the Student Centre, boasts a spacious, well-stocked Beit Midrash, where most shiurim and programs take place, as do daily Mincha and frequent Lunch and Learn opportunities. There is a dairy restaurant under the COR’s supervision, Kosher Country Style, located on campus. In addition to offering a major or minor in Jewish studies, York’s Bachelor’s of Education in both secular and Judaic studies allows students to study for a year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The University of Toronto stretches across numerous city blocks in downtown Toronto. U of T’s beautiful Hillel building hosts shiurim and visiting guest speakers, offers students a selection of sefarim to take advantage of, and usually has a daily Mincha. There are daily Mincha minyanim at Mount Sinai hospital, near both U of T and Ryerson University and in a building next to the Hillel at Ryerson, located near the Eaton Centre. Currently Hillel at Ryerson is renting space right next to campus, and when Rabbi Greenberg is downtown he always brings lunch for students to enjoy in addition to the weekly Torah he provides. Other than dinner, which students from both U of T and Ryerson can buy at the U of T Hillel (or recieve for free when attending an OU-JLIC shiur), there is no kosher food on either campus, but OU-JLIC and Hillel often provide lunch and snacks, and Mt. Sinai’s cafeteria sells kosher food as well.