Israel Fest energizes community at Hillel

Two students celebrate Israel Fest at Hillel House on Tuesday April 12, 2016. (Rebecca Newman/The Daily Campus)

Upbeat and positive energy permeated the Huskies for Israel event – “Israel Fest” – at Hillel House Tuesday afternoon, fostering an atmosphere of fun and appreciation for the country of Israel.

Israel Fest boasted high attendance from University of Connecticut students. Throughout Hillel house, stations shared anything and everything that Hillel members say makes Israel great.

Several stations expressed information on Israeli national programs and destinations that capture the essence of the country.

“What excites me about the event is telling students about Israel that don’t know much about the country or have only been exposed to it in the media,” said Yoshua Goodman, a fourth semester patho-biology major. “Israel is more than what is seen in the media.”

The stations were named and dedicated to different places and programs throughout Israel.  Stations included Haifa, the Carmel Market, Jerusalem, Tzfat, The Dead Sea, The Negev, The Israeli Defense Forces and Tel Aviv.

According to information available at the Tel Aviv station, there are more biotechnology start-ups per capita in Israel than any other country. Copies of a brochure detailing the country’s innovations were available, and really nailed down the contributions the country has made for the world.

The Negev station expressed technologies used in Israel that address the issue of water availability in places all around the world. One example of this is found in pomegranate juice, which has helped people avoid major heart bypass surgeries through its consumption.

Other stations also had information on medical, communications and computing innovations.  For example, instant messaging technology was created and developed by four unemployed Israelis in Tel Aviv, according to a brochure available at the Tel Aviv Station.  The program, ICQ, is used by millions around the world.

“Tel Aviv is the Silicon Valley and the Miami of Israel,” said Alex Dobensky, an eighth semester finance major and President of Huskies for Israel. “I joined Huskies for Israel last fall and was approached to help organize the event. Hillel has never done an event to this scale before and we really wanted to show off why we love Israel to anyone and everyone.”

While there was much information available that was truly remarkable about the country, its culture could be heard in the music playing at the event, exclusively Israeli and Jewish hip hop artists. The mood and energy was infectious and palpable with people smiling, dancing and talking the entire event.

“I teach them to be young leaders,” said Noa Rifkin, the Israel fellow at Hillel house, “The ideas were all them. I wanted to reach out to all the people who aren’t from Israel. Yes it’s fun and you get the education through the fun.”


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.