Bruins for Israel of UCLA teamed up with the Armenia Student Association to organize a successful event that celebrated Armenian and Israeli cultures as well as their unique intersection. Natalie Bakhshi reports back to CAMERA with the details.
Shalom Aper took place at UCLA on November 15, 2013. The idea of the program was to build awareness within the campus community about Armenian and Israeli cultures, as well as their intersections and differences. The event offered students at UCLA a unique glimpse into the two cultures; indeed, students experienced a variety of foods, dances and musical styles characteristic of Israeli and Armenian cultures.
UCLA’s bruins for Israel teamed up with UCLA’s Armenian Students’ Association to put on the event, and came up with a catchy name, too. The name of the event perfectly communicated its idea; Shalom in Hebrew means hello and peace, and Aper means “bro” in Armenian. Thus, the title offered a welcoming, bi-lingual message of “peace, bro.”
Another crucial aspect of the event is that it offered an opportunity for student leaders to reach out to various pro-peace, Pro Israel, and and pro co-existence students on campus. As such, it offered UCLA’s Bruins for Israel an opportunity to add members to its group.
Natalie explains that the event “provided the perfect atmosphere for Bruins for Israel members to socialize with the members of the Armenian Students’ Association. Through each aspect of the event, we were able to educate the campus community about commonalities between the two cultures as well as celebrate the differences.”
Special cultural features of the event included performances by Jukebox (the Jewish Acapella group), who sang Hatikva (Israel’s anthem), and performances by the Armenian Dance club. An Israeli dance instructor at the event offered students a fun and engaging dance lesson. These aspects of the event were not only entertaining, but were also educational. They encouraged students from Bruins for Israel and the Armenian Culture club to bond.
Natalie hopes to bring in even more students to next year’s Shalom Aper event, as this year’s Shalom Aper was such a success. Overall, she says, the event effectively “incorporated both Armenian and Israeli symbols and colors and made students of both groups feel welcome.”