Almost 900 people have been injured and 62 have been killed in terror attacks in Israel since September 2015, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On Tuesday, Binghamton University students raised money for the victims of Israel’s recent terror attacks at the second annual “All-In for Israel” casino night at the Rohr Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life.
Approximately 60 people signed up for the fundraiser, which was co-hosted by Chabad, the BU Zionist Organization (BUZO), Bearcats for Israel and the Scrabble Club. The $1,400 raised at the event will be donated to Chabad’s Terror Victims Project, an international nonprofit that allocates money to Israel’s terror victims and their families, regardless of their religious background.
Mariah Stein, the student president of Chabad and a senior majoring in human development, said joining forces with BUZO and Bearcats for Israel was a great way to draw a crowd.
“We thought that bringing in the two Israel organizations on campus would give us a larger pull and reach even more students to come together to support a great cause and have a huge impact while also enjoying a great event,” Stein said.
Attendees paid a $10 cover chrarge to eat, hang out with friends and play blackjack or Scrabble. Those interested in poker could pay an extra $10 to $20 to participate in a Texas Hold ‘em tournament. No actual gambling took place, as students competed for prizes ranging from Cold Stone Creamery gift cards to BUZO T-shirts, rather than cash. Kevin Brown, a sophomore majoring in biology, chose to play Scrabble with other students rather than partake in the tournament.
“I’m playing games and hanging out with friends that I know and people that I don’t,” Brown said. “Events like these are a great way to meet new people while also supporting and bringing attention to a cause that I’m passionate about.”
The event began last year as a fundraiser for the victims of fires in northern Israel, mainly in the city of Haifa. Many of the fires were believed to be caused by politically motivated arsonists, according to The New York Times. Jacob Fishman, president of Bearcats for Israel and a senior majoring in political science, said Chabad’s Terror Victims Project aids victims in various ways.
“What’s great about what we’re doing is that the money raised is being used in a wide range of ways,” Fishman said. “It could be as simple as paying for a victim’s cab fare to the hospital or paying for that victim’s whole hospital bill.”
Israel is not currently experiencing extremely high rates of terrorism, according to Binghamton University’s Zionist groups. Nevertheless, Rabbi Levi Slonim, the director of programming and development for Chabad, said they are still occurring and victims continue to require aid, even though attacks may not be numerous.
“Just a few days ago there were a few soldiers wounded on the border,” Slonim said. “The need is constant, unfortunately, so events like this are a tremendous display of unity and support.”
In 2017, 54 terror attacks were successfully carried out across Israel, ranging from stabbings, shootings, vehicular rammings and roadside pipe bombs, according to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Brianna Perris, a junior majoring in chemistry, said she chose to attend the casino night event because of her personal connection to the cause.
“A lot of us are connected to Israel,” Perris said. “I have friends who fight in the [Israeli Defense Forces], so it’s great that the money is going toward terror victims.”