Hillel at Binghamton brought the international celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut to campus yesterday, which marked 64 years of Israeli independence.
Because of the rainy weather forecast, Hillel made a last-minute decision on Wednesday to move the event from its traditional location in the Dickinson Amphitheater to the Mandela Room and Old Union Hall.
Dana Wellesly-Stein, a senior double-majoring in art history and Chinese, is the volunteer coordinator for Hillel. She estimated that around 1,000 people attended the celebration, which is about 500 people fewer than last year.
“I think the lower attendance rates are two-fold in that we weren’t in our original location in the Dickinson Amphitheater and that we were unable to advertise our new indoors location because the change was made so close to the event,” she said. “However, even with a lack of visibility, we still had a lot of people show.”
The location change forced Hillel to cancel their planned beach display and zip line, said Danielle Kutas, the event chair and a junior majoring in marketing.
Planning for the $20,000 event began in January, according to Kutas, who ran Yom Ha’Atzmaut for the first time this year.
“It gets stressful,” Kutas said. “But it’s a lot of fun, which makes it totally worth it.”
The three-hour celebration featured a Bedouin tent, prizes, traditional Israeli food and live performances by Kaskeset, BU’s Jewish a cappella group, and the BU Dance Team.
A popular Jewish band, The Mosha Band, served as the background music for most of the night.
“The Mosha Band is a really well-known band in the Jewish community and a lot of people were shocked that we actually got them,” Kutas said.
More than 200 people volunteered to help run the food and activity booths, and though the event took place from 4 to 7 p.m., volunteers started setting up early Thursday morning.
Wellesly-Stein said she was thankful for how much effort the volunteers put in.
“Yom Ha’Atzmaut gets better every year and it always surprises me how many people are willing to give their time,” Wellesly-Stein said.