Queens College students hosted Israel Fest 2017 on May 8th on the quad. Israel Student Association (ISA) board members planned a day full of activities, food, music, and learning for QC students.
The atmosphere was filled with excitement, music, dancing, and a live camel. Bailey Herzfled, a sophomore at Queens College, mentioned how the camel contributed to Israel Fest as one of the most unique events held on campus yearly.
“The camel definitely caught everyone’s attention. It definitely brought Israel to QC and gave us a taste of the country.”
The theme of traveling to Israel was incorporated into the event itself. In order to get free lunch, falafel or Israeli shawarma, students were required to get stamped – mock Israeli passports that also substituted as a beginners guide to spoken Hebrew.
Booths located around the Quad represented Israeli cities. These booths stamped “student-visitor” passports signified they went to see that city.
All the booths around the Quad were run by a multitude of school-registered clubs participating and supporting the Israeli festival. The booths were tools to educate students about Israel and the cities they represented.
A booth representing Tel Aviv featured a lot of information on Israeli technology. Being that Tel Aviv is the high-tech capital of Israel, Soda Stream, and facial recognition technology, both designed in Israel were displayed and accessible for students.
Another booth featuring Jerusalem displayed the Western Wall, which are remains of the Jewish Holy Temple destroyed in 70CE. Today the wall is very popular amongst tourists and is at the base of the Al-Asqa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Organizations, including the Jewish National Fund, participated by hosting a table where students could grab a cup with dirt and plant a flower. Masa Israel Journey also anchored a station, distributing information about study-abroad programs, scholarships, and opportunities in Israel for students.
Zac Welgrin, a junior majoring in chemistry, was impressed that Israel Fest succeeded in displaying Israel as a country beyond its media-gained reputation.
“Israel is important to many students and important to celebrate as well as what it represents.”
A booth representing the feeling of national unity in Israel, displayed a canvas with the handprints of students representing the achievements that can be accomplished when everyone’s hands are “in,” working together.
Gitit Bachiry, Vice President of ISA and student coordinator of Israel Fest, mentioned the importance of Israel Fest and its purpose.
“It’s important to have Israel Fest every year because it is a nice way to learn and celebrate Israel,” she continued, “There’s no way to pull off such a huge event without help. My team works just as hard as me and puts everything they have into it. We were also fortunate to get extra help and resources from friends, volunteers and outside organizations.”
When asked why she thought Israel Fest was important to students on campus, she said, “I think some students don’t know enough about Israel and that is a shame. Israel has so much technology that students use and don’t even know about. Israel also has a lot to offer in terms of its rich culture and history. I think Israel is very different than America, but is equally as wonderful.”
The ISA supplied t-shirts for volunteers that read “Party like it’s 1948,” the year in which the state of Israel was established.
Bachiry also said that the event took months of planning, since the beginning of the January.
“The most rewarding part of Israel Fest was to hear people’s compliments afterwards about how much they enjoyed the event,” she continued,“Student Association has always been supportive and helpful with our events. They helped us a lot in making sure Israel Fest was a success.”