By Kathy Carlson
For a full week, Vanderbilt University students tasted Israeli music, food, culture and politics during iFest 2012, presented by Hillel.
“The main goal was to bring to everybody something about Israel,” said Lital Swissa, Israel Fellow at Hillel. It was the first time Hillel held an Israel-themed festival for a week instead of for one day, she said.
“Each event was really different,” she said. Each appealed to different student interests. Student groups within Hillel coordinated each event. Activities included a Sunday night study break with coffee from Israel, a discussion on why Israel matters, a lunch and learn session on the state of Israel, a concert at an Elliston Place venue by the Israeli group Acollective, a shuk and food events, IDF training and the Israeli self-defense discipline of krav maga. The week culminated in Shabbat services and dinner.
A program on current events in Israel – “a serious presentation without food,” as Swissa described it – drew 30 students, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The shuk and food events were like a fair, she continued, and a lot of people stopped by. “I felt it was a really, really good event. We opened a window to know Israel in a different way, not just from the media.
“…I felt that the Hillel student leaders did a really good job and put all their energies together” to make the iFest a success. •