In early February IsraelFest was held by campus group Emet Israel at the University of Miami. Approximately 150 students turned out to the annual celebration, showcasing Israeli food, a falafel eating contest, and a Krav Maga class. Attendance was high, but more importantly, the students engaging and asking questions were not Jewish or already affiliated with Israel. They were intrigued by the activities organized, and many walked away with a deepened understanding of Israel.
A Krav Maga instructor gave demonstrations and taught students how to defend themselves in various dangerous scenarios. The workshops were open to all students, and provided a rare opportunity for them to learn personal protection strategies. The falafel eating contest was a big hit – each contestant represented a different club on campus, which was instrumental in Emet-Israel creating bridges with other student groups.
Connections were made between the UCatholic Club, the Student Government Club, the Ping Pong Club, and other sororities and fraternities, as participants ate falafel in record-breaking times. Giving out free shirts at the event also helped Emet Israel spread awareness of its existence. Across campus, students are still seen wearing these shirts weeks after the event took place.
“Ultimately, IsraelFest is an initiative that UMiami intends to host annually, because it was incredibly successful in bringing acknowledgment and recognition to Israel advocacy on campus. It is important to further this recognition, so that everyone knows the goals of Emet-Israel and all that the group works toward,” said organizer and President of Emet Israel, Tal Tahori.
Taking note of IsraelFest’s success in getting the general student population involved, Emet Israel has future events featuring interactive programs in mind. Based on the event’s positive turnout, it is clear to organizers that students are interested in learning more about Israel on campus.