By Mark Choy
Holding events in-person has been difficult for many clubs, but this university’s Israeli American Council Mishelanu group for Israeli-American students has had greater success.
On March 1, Mishelanu organized an Israeli Paint Night with 18 members participating, far surpassing past paint nights that typically had less than half of their 25 spots filled. Because paint supplies are funded, only 25 open slots are available. This year, members followed along on Zoom to create a painting of a windowsill scene overlooking the city of Jerusalem.
Junior mechanical engineering major and co-President Stav Elazar Mittelman spoke about the club’s mission to spread Israeli culture.
“Mishelanu focuses on giving UMD students, specifically Israeli American students and Israeli students, the opportunity to engage and explore Israeli culture as well as all UMD students [the] opportunity to learn about Israeli culture,” said Elazar Mittelman.
He also said the paint night gave stressed students a fun way to relax. While Mishelanu typically holds more educational events, this Israeli-themed paint night was meant to be both relevant and enjoyable. Having a structured activity for members to do, rather than just sitting on Zoom, led to much of the event’s overall success, according to Elazar Mittelman.
Many students are unable to attend in-person activities due to living off-campus and the other restrictions of COVID-19. The online Israeli paint night allowed them to meet and socialize with other students virtually.
“I have not been able to attend a lot of on-campus activities because I am living off-campus this semester, so it was a great way to get to know new faces and just have some fun and friendly interactions,” said Yael Hamburger, a senior family science major.
Other students had joined the event for the first time and enjoyed the experience of painting virtually.
“I have never attended this event before, but I think it worked well online. People were still able to have conversations and feel connected,” said Naomi Hoch, a senior nutrition science major. “I enjoyed attending the paint night!”
Mishelanu plans to hold the event again next semester due to its overwhelming success over Zoom. Both participants and the club’s leaders said they are looking forward to the experience again.
Elazar Mittelman explained how having events over Zoom can be difficult to execute.
Many students do not bother going to virtual events because they are on Zoom,” he said.
However, connecting with different Israeli students is Mishelanu’s ultimate goal, and the Israeli Paint Night seemed to do just that.
“It was meaningful to be around people who share a love for Israel,” said Hoch.