Israel is celebrating its 63rd year as an independent Jewish state more than 5,000 miles away from Binghamton University, but that is not stopping students here from throwing their own party.
The State of Israel was formally established on May 14, 1948. Its founding is celebrated in Israel annually with a national holiday called Yom Ha’Atzmaut, or Independence Day.
Hillel at BU and Bearcats for Israel will bring the celebration to campus with a carnival and barbecue from 4 to 7 p.m. today in the Dickinson Amphitheater. The event will be free for students with a valid BU ID and $7 for community members.
According to Andrew Topal, a freshman majoring in political science and co-chair of the event, upwards of 20 BU students helped plan the celebration.
Those who attend the celebration can expect to experience some of the tastes, sights and sounds of Israel, including 22 tons of white beach sand, Israeli foods from schwarma and schnitzel to kebabs and falafel, Israeli singer Paula Valstein and a Bedouin tent.
The event will feature activities specific to unique locations throughout Israel, such as a “mini-Western Wall” representing Jerusalem and a mini-spa with products from AHAVA representing the Dead Sea.
Student band Phoenix and the Ravens will perform, as will Jewish a cappella group Kaskeset.
“It’s a good mix of a lot of different things,” Topal said. “I think a lot of people will … learn more about Israel and what Israel means to the world through the past 63 years.”
Danielle Kutas, a junior majoring in management and entrepreneurship and director of Bearcats for Israel, added that while the event is intended to be a fun celebration, she hopes that it will help raise people’s opinion of Israel, which may have been negatively swayed by the media.
“Whether it is putting ethnic foods or different nationalities in Israel or bringing in a Tel Aviv beach … we want people to realize Israel is important to celebrate,” Kutas said. “We want this to be the best birthday party they’ve ever been to, a way to get to know different aspects of Israel. People have different preconceptions, but at the end of the day it’s a country like the U.S. or anywhere else.”
— Alexandra Abel contributed to this report.