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Israel: Celebration and Conflict

Israel: Celebration and Conflict

Israel is 62 and on college campuses across the country that’s cause for celebration – and controversy.

Hillel at Binghamton’s Israel Mega Event attracted more than 1,500 students, staff, and community members who enjoyed the festival’s Israeli food and activities. "The goal of the event is to bring Israeli culture to campus," said Rebecca Kohn, president of Hillel. "The carnival brings aspects of Israel that most people have no experience or knowledge of." Read more here.

Students at the University of Oklahoma hosted an Israel Block Party on Tuesday, serving food and educating about Israeli history and U.S.-Israel relations. Student Zach Stein described the event’s message: “We’re not here to tell anyone what to think,” he said. “We’re here to get information out there and let people do with it what they will.”

At the University of Massachusetts, Hillel teamed up with the campus’s Student Alliance for Israel to organize their annual Yom Ha’Atzmaut carnival and celebration. Read more here.

Gathering at their brand new Norman M. Fain Hillel Center, University of Rhode Island students held a cookout on the evening of the holiday. Hillel also passed out cake to over 100 students.

An Israeli Quad Day party was also held at the University of Illinois.

Be sure to check out Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life President Wayne L. Firestone’s article on the meaning of Zionism and Yom Ha’Atzmaut for today’s students.

Bringing the Conflict Home

Last week students at the University of Maryland, College Park sponsored a “Palestinian Solidarity Week.” The week went without much controversy. A cartoon in the school’s newspaper elicited a strong response from the Jewish community and an apology from the paper’s opinion editor. Campus Israel leaders worked tirelessly to keep discussion between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students civil and are currently planning for UMD Israel Week at the start of next month. Read more about last week’s controversies here.

Jewlicious Rocks Long Beach

The Jewlicious festival brought together 500 young Jews from around North America to celebrate the diversity of Jewish life.

Jazz and Judaism

The Dartmouth, Dartmouth College’s student newspaper, recently ran a piece on Israeli jazz musician Anat Cohen, artist-in-residence this week at the school’s Hopkins Center for Arts. Cohen visited student performances, classes, and Dartmouth Hillel. Check it out here.

Tikkun Olam Around the World

At Stony Brook University, Hillel and the AEPi fraternity joined forces in a charity Texas Hold ’Em poker tournament, raising fund for Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Israel. Learn more about it here.

In Israel, Students at Sderot’s Sapir College Hillel have turned a local café that employs at-risk youth into a used bookstore, donating 2,000 old books to Café Yael Sefarim. One such project took place at the Hillel at Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. On March 12, IDC Hillel organized a Shabbat dinner attended by 170 students to benefit Hillel’s long-time partner, Save a Child’s Heart, an organization that funds life-saving heart surgeries for African children in Israel. Read more about it on Hillel’s website.

Hillel students in the Ukraine and Israel also recently participated in the international Day of Good Deeds. Read more about it here.

New Home for Jewish Mountaineers

West Virginia University Hillel is about finished with remodeling its building, made possible by a $100,000 anonymous grant. Read more about it in the school’s student newspaper.

Fighting to Re-Abolish Slavery

This Passover, at least eight campuses participated in “Freedom Shabbat” gatherings on April 2 and 3 in order to learn about human trafficking, often referred to as modern-day slavery. In collaboration with the Not For Sale Campaign, Jewish groups across the country took part in Freedom Shabbaton. Learn more here.

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