April 28, 2004

Celebrating Israeli Independence

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On Monday, the Jewish Student Union celebrated Israeli Independence Day on the Rawlings Green on North Campus. Along with the moon bounce, rides of Eli the Camel and lots of food, Jewish organizations from Cornell, Ithaca College and the greater Tompkins County area attended the event to display information and educate passers-by about Israel.

“Traditionally, Israeli Independence Day is a time of the community coming together and celebrating the existence of Israel,” said Malka Benjamin ’07, a co-chair of creative development of the JSU. Benjamin organized the whole event along with co-chair Dena Ruebusch ’04.

“The new thing we did was push for education about different aspects of Israel,” said Benjamin. Tents were set up selling food, Israeli products and t-shirts along with tents set up independently by different Jewish organizations.

Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee was there to promote the group’s “Israel is Gorges” campaign.


“The purpose of the campaign is to express the beauty of Israel, the different strides Israel has made in environmentalism, technology that has changed all of our lives, women rights and gay rights,” said Eli Magid ’06, vice president of programming for CIPAC.

“It is not a political campaign at all,” he said.

The group is selling “Israel is Gorges” t-shirts. The proceeds will go to the One Family Fund — Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund.

“It’s a fund to support victims of terrorism and their families,” said Sarah Boxer ’07, “It’s not a political charity as much as a really tremendous way to support the Israeli people.”

In creating the idea for the t-shirt, Dan Greenwald, vice president of campus relations for CIPAC, explained, “We always talk about how beautiful Israel is and one day we saw an “Ithaca is Gorges” t-shirt and said ‘Wow’. It just made perfect sense.”

KOACH, a group that gives students the opportunity to maintain and develop connections to Conservative Judaism, set up a small reenactment of the signing of the Israeli Declaration of the Independence. On the table was a copy of the original declaration that students could sign and behind the table were two Israeli flags surrounding a picture of Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism.

Linda Mandel attended, representing Temple Beth El, a conservative synagogue in downtown Ithaca. She created and sold Hebrew name necklaces as a fundraiser for Rabbi Felix Aber’s religious school.

Several Jewish students, not affiliated with any particular organization, were at the festival running face-painting and sand art tables.

Other attractions at the celebration were a shuk, or an open-air Israeli market, food provided by the Kosher Dining Hall and local caterer David Sayada, and an inflatable climbing wall.

“This year we tried to open up to more individual groups,” said Alex Shapero ’06, vice chair for public relations for the JSU. Other organizations at the event were the Jewish Community Men’s Club, Ithaca College Hillel, Chabad of Ithaca, Ithaca Area United Jewish Communities, Birthright Israel, Sepharadi Mizrahi Association at Cornell and the Jewish Russian Club.

“All over cities, colleges, temples, everywhere in America you see this kind of thing,” said Benjamin.

Archived article by Casey Holmes
Sun Staff Writer