On Monday, Old Union Hall was transformed into Aroma Cafe, a take on popular Israeli chain Aroma Espresso Bar, giving students a chance to experience Israeli culture at Binghamton University.
Bearcats for Israel and Hillel at Binghamton organized the annual “Aroma Cafe,” an event where members recreate food and drinks sold in various cafe locations throughout Israel. Joshua Marcus, a member of Bearcats for Israel and a sophomore double-majoring in political science and psychology, said the cafe is open to all students, not just those who have been to a real Aroma Espresso Bar.
“This is a chance to show a fun side of Israel,” Marcus said. “It brings people together and gives them a chance to appreciate the culture, outside of any political influence that usually surrounds Israel.”
At the event, students lined up to sign in and approach the main counter to order. Just like the Aroma Espresso Bars in Israel, they then waited for their names to be called at the other end of the kitchen area to pick up their order. A few changes were made this year — according to Marcus, organizers slightly altered the menu and rearranged the area’s setup.
“We incorporated a little bit of a different style in terms of how we want the room to look, and to make things a little less hectic on the inside, so people have a much smoother time getting food out,” Marcus said.
Some students in attendance said they were there to re-experience the feel of the Aroma Espresso Bars they visited while spending time in Israel. Mia Cohen, a junior majoring in linguistics, said she came to the event with friends who had also visited Israel.
“It was just an amazing experience,” Cohen said. “I’m just here to have a good time and to get to talk about Israel again with my friends and remember all the fun experiences we had when we were there. The Shuk Market would always have the Aroma Cafes and it was always part of just that fun exploration we got to do while we were there.”
Most of the food for the event came from local grocery stores. BU Dining Services also provided some ingredients. However, all the food was prepared by members of Bearcats for Israel and its volunteers.
Alana Osroff, a junior majoring in psychology, said she came to the event to support her friends involved with organizing the cafe.
“I have many friends who are participating and helping in cooking and serving people, and I’ve been here before, so I know it’s a great environment,” Osroff said. “This event attracts great company and I just hope to be more immersed in Jewish culture by attending.”
Ziv Wand, a junior majoring in accounting, said he saw the Aroma Cafe as an opportunity to introduce his friends to part of the culture he was immersed in last summer.
“My whole family is from Israel, so I was there this whole summer and I would have Aroma every day, so I just really wanted that again,” Wand said. “And I really wanted to have my friends experience the culture and I think they’re having a good time. I just think it’s cool and an authentic experience. It’s pretty similar to the actual thing.”