by Laura Ross
Tevy Pilc is a Jewish-Canadian student in the Centennial College journalism program who is determined to be a positive representative for his faith. He is quiet and somewhat reserved, not maintaining eye contact and not speaking often, but what he does have to say is well thought out and worth listening to. He does not try to be in your face about his faith, but wears his Jewish religious symbols with pride and confidence and explains them to those who ask, although he admits that he was not always so religious.
“Wearing the yarmulke is a reminder of humility, that God is always above us and the knots in the string of the tzitzit represent the number of commandments in the Torah and are a reminder to the individual of their duty to follow them,” explained Pilc.
Pilc attended Westmount Collegiate Institute, a public high school in Thornhill next door to his home. When he started there he was not very interested in his Jewish roots, despite a family history that includes one grandfather who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and another who joined the French underground movement in Nazi occupied Germany. In Grade 10 however, Pilc joined the National Conference of Synagogue Youth, an after school youth group, and started to learn more about Jewish traditions such as the keeping of the Sabbath or day of rest and the wearing of the yarmulke and tzitzit.
When he decided he was serious about learning the Jewish faith and started to follow more of the commandments, his religious leaders suggested a pilgrimage to Israel to study in a religious school called a yeshiva for a year.
Pilc took this to heart and after graduating from high school, spent nine months, from
September 2005 to June 2006, living and studying in Israel. Pilc cherishes the time he spent there and
describes the experience as one that allows you to just get in touch with yourself and straighten out your priorities, think about your values and what is really important to you. After returning from his trip to Israel, Pilc says he is more aware of his faith and no longer embarrassed about wearing the yarmulke and tzitzit in public because he has realized that he should be living his life for God. Shortly afterwards, he started his journalism degree and started to explore how he could integrate his faith into his journalistic career.
“I’m not in it to make money, it’s a means to strengthen a positive Jewish presence in the media and hopefully use my writing to make the world a better place, ” Pilc said.
Pilc hopes to be a positive example of the Jewish faith to the general population because he is concerned about the amount of bad press that the Jewish community receives globally, especially with the ongoing conflict in Israel. He shows his confidence in his faith and his community as he admits that while he does represent the public as a journalist, he also represents his people and knows that as a result of this, he and even the Jewish community at large may be judged because of his actions as a journalist.
After the first year of the journalism program in 2007, feeling like his faith wasn’t strong enough, Pilc returned to Israel for another six weeks to “work on [him]self a little more” and came away with a strong sense of inner peace.
Pilc now works in his community as a kosher food supervisor at weddings and bar or bat mitzvahs as well as as as a staff member and advisor to the youth group that inspired him , but his dream job involves moving to Israel and being a columnist for an Israeli paper.
“My goal is to be as selfless as possible, but nothing is going to stand in my way,” says Pilc. He envisions himself working for the greater good of his community and even the world by being a positive Jewish role model for both people of the Jewish faith, and those from other faiths.