By Dovid Fisher, for the Mitzpeh, @DovidFisher
Maryland Hillel’s Israeli-themed Shabbat Dinner took place during Israel Week and gave students an opportunity to celebrate Israel in an intimate setting. Courtesy of Nurit Eitan.
Jewish students from various backgrounds enjoyed an Israel-themed dinner at Hillel on April 24.
The dinner was part of Israel Week, a weeklong celebration of Israel and Israeli culture, and included students who regularly eat at Hillel as well as students who had attended Birthright or will do so in the summer.
The evening, which began with a serenade from the acapella group Kol Sasson, included short speeches from students Sara Cramer, a freshman computer science major who is joining the Israeli army this summer, and Miriam Pomerantz, a sophomore family science major who will be visiting Israel this summer on Birthright.
There were also topics relating to Israel on each of the tables for students, prompting students to discuss questions such as their favorite place in Israel and favorite Israeli food.
The Shabbat dinner was meant to have “a very inclusive, open conversation about Israel,” said Nurit Eitan, Hillel’s Israel Fellow, who organized Israel Week on campus. “We wanted students to have fun, to have a great conversation with their friends and just talk about what Israel means to them.”
Students Zoe Eisenberg, Daniel Ofman, Senaya Savir, and Matt Wells helped organize the event as well, and gave short speeches throughout the dinner. There were also student representatives for the organizations Masa Israel and Onward Israel, which have programs for college students to attend is Israel.
Pomerantz, spoke about her experience in Israel in her address to the attendees. “I chose to speak because there are many people who haven’t been to Israel who are going this summer on birthright or other trips and I wanted to share my love with Israel with them and get them excited to go,” Pomerantz said. “We all come from similar backgrounds but from different places and the fact that we come together with a shared love or a newfound love for Israel is incredible.”
In her speech, Cramer talked about her time in Israel and how it influenced her decision to join the Israeli army this coming summer.
“Some things are greater than feeling homesick, and my Mechina has taught me that living with a mission is one of those things,” Cramer said. “I believe that my mission is not here, but in Israel.”
Jonathan Reizes, a sophomore government and politics major and past birthright participant, attended the event because of his ties to Israel. “I have, myself, a strong relationship with Israel,” Reizes said. “My parents are Israeli themselves. We are a very Zionistic family.”
Reizes also attended the dinner to learn what other Israel opportunities are available to him.
“I also wanted to get involved with programs such as Masa Israel and Onward Israel,” said Reizes, who is interested in going back to Israel. “I thought this Shabbat was a good culmination of what happened this past week.”,