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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

campus student life

20th annual celebration of Jewish heritage takes place at IU Hillel on April 10


The 20th annual Israelpalooza, a celebration of Jewish heritage, was made complete with free middle eastern food, music and participation by organizations of all kinds, on Wednesday in the IU Hillel Center.  

Hosted by the student-led organization Hoosiers for Israel and the IU Hillel, which is known as the Jewish “home away from home” for students, the Israelpalooza celebrates Jewish heritage and provides education on Israel. Hoosiers for Israel President Sophie Shafran said that the celebration tries to replicate the experience of visiting Israel the best that it can.  

“It’s just our way of celebrating our heritage,” Shafran said. “Judaism originates in Israel, and we all resonate with that very deeply. It’s just a way for us to celebrate our culture. I know a lot of us, including myself, have family there. So, it’s really nice for me because it almost feels like I’m celebrating them and what they’re living through. It just makes me feel more connected to them on my college campus.” 

Israelpalooza was originally planned to take place in Dunn Meadow, but the location had to be changed due to weather conditions and was moved indoors. It was organized in a way to replicate Israeli culture and to honor the specialties of major Israeli cities. A DJ playing Israeli music was located in the mock Tel Aviv, a city known for its party scene, with the LGBTQ+ organization Keshet nearby.  

“We’re happy to have this event every year on campus because we think it promotes conversation,” Shafran said. “Conversation is the first step and it's an important thing.” 

Matt Hastings, the assistant director of programming for IU Hillel, said that just like all Hillel events, all students are welcome to attend.  

“It’s just a fun way to celebrate Israel,” Hastings said. “Taking politics and everything and putting it aside and just having a fun day.” 

Guests were given free food tickets to be redeemed at Bloomington’s Döner Kebab food truck, and the Chocolate Moose was inside providing free ice cream.  

There were also multiple philanthropic Jewish organizations which attended Israelpalooza, including Donate Life, Magen David Adom or the “Red Shield of David” – equivalent to the American Red Cross – and Save a Child’s Heart, which raises money to send children to Israel for lifesaving medical care.  

President of the Hillel Student Executive Board Leah Sterbcow said she too feels education and conversation are a large part of the celebration.  

“We don’t ever want it to be something that turns into a violent, hostile discussion,” Sterbcow said. “That has always been the purpose of Israelpalooza. It’s supposed to be a day of joy and learning and education and happiness.”  

Shayna Grossman, Hillel social chair, helped plan Israelpalooza. Amidst international conflict, Grossman said she feels Israelpalooza can remind students they have a safe space on campus.  

“I’d say there are a lot of people right now who don’t feel safe,” Grossman said. “I think this kind of reminds them that we have a sense of community here.”  

For sophomore Ilana Felix, her parents met at an IU Hillel event while they were students. She said events like Israelpalooza are an important part of her college experience. Felix, the former vice president for First Year Students of Hillel, actively participates as a member of Hillel.   

“This is an event for unity,” Felix said. “It is love. We preach love in everything we do, and that’s what I think this event is, at least for me. We’re sharing our love. We’re showing that we can all be together as one as children of God.”  

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