This past November, CAMERA-supported group Knights for Israel (KFI) and Central Florida Hillel collaborated to host the very first Israel Diversity Week at the University of Central Florida; the second largest school in the nation with over 62,000 students. With the help of CAMERA on Campus, the two organizations came together to host a number of events with the goal of educating students on the diversity that makes Israel the sole inclusive state in the Middle East.
The week began with the screening of the sequel to the successful Jerusalem U documentary, Beneath the Helmet. The fresh documentary Mekonen follows Mekonen Abebe, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel that went on to become an officer in the Paratroopers unit of the Israel Defense Forces. In the former film, directors followed a number of soldiers, including Mekonen, during their army service. Such an up-close perspective enabled all viewers to establish a connection with the soldiers. The event concluded with an open dialogue on Mekonen’s story as well as other topics that surround diversity in Israel.
The week continued with the featured speaker of the week, Pastor Dumisani Washington. Pastor Washington is a Christian Israel advocate that travels around the world with the goal of educating others on the diversity that exists within Israel; regardless of race, color, or creed. Pastor Washington led an impassioned discussion on the religious, racial, and political diversity that makes up the State of Israel. Not only did he speak on the importance of diversity, but he also explained how to strongly defend Israel’s diversity from the numerous misconceptions that surround the state. The event drew over 50 students and was one of Knights for Israel’s most successful events of the semester.
Our goal with Knights for Israel is to educate students about different facets of Israel and challenge their thinking as well. Trudy Morse, Junior, and Chair of Israel Initiatives at Hillel tells me that “Events like these show people that there is more to Israel than what you learn in religious school”. This is one of our biggest goals at KFI and for the week overall. By introducing new topics and conversations about Israel, students become more educated and in turn become more involved with Pro-Israel efforts on campus and worldwide.
This event was also covered by Heritage Florida Jewish News.