By Elinoy Granot, Hillels of Georgia Israel Fellow
I am from Israel, but the first time I heard of Israel Fest was from students here in Atlanta.
When I started working at Hillels of Georgia, almost every other conversation or coffee date I had with college students, I was told about Israel Fest. During winter break I received what I would call the Israel Fest Bible - a document of over 20 pages that explains all things Israel Fest. However, this year provided a unique challenge: last year there was no Israel Fest due to Covid-19, and this year I needed to adapt Israel Fest to incorporate social distancing, at not one, but 3 different universities (KSU, Tech, and GSU).
Each school has a different spirit and each school has a different way of expressing their connection to Israel. My first Israel Fest this year was at KSU - a week before Yom Ha'atzmaut. We reserved “the green” - a large field in the middle of campus - and invited students to join us to explore Israel through different stations around “the green”. Each station represented a different city in Israel and incorporated an activity that connected the students with that city of Israel. The most exciting station had to have been the Artists for Israel T-shirts where artists made custom shirts for students attending Israel fest.
The second Israel Fest was at Georgia Tech where we had a huge event on the Tech Green. So many students got involved and were curious to explore Israel. Many of them were drawn to come take a picture with our (real!) camel and learn more about the country. The students enjoyed different stations: Israeli culture, Israeli snacks, Israeli music, and, similar to KSU, the artists for Israel T-shirts.
The last Israel fest was for two universities: GSU and Oglethorpe. We started with a tabling event at GSU where students could pick up Israel Fest boxes I prepped beforehand. These boxes were full of small materials representing some of the tastes and spirit of Israel! After the giveaway, we had an amazing Yom Ha'atzmaut picnic - very similar to what my friends and I would do in Israel. We all met in Piedmont park with some amazing Israeli food like shawarma and falafels. For desert students enjoyed homemade chocolate croissants. We also had fun with some Israeli dancing!
All of these amazing events were thanks to the hard work of dedicated students leaders, and of course my Hillel team!
I loved sharing my culture and love for Israel with my new friends across Georgia, and I can't wait to do it again next year!