Forget about the East Coast vs. West Coast war in the hip-hop world. Based on the success of the "Hip-Hop and Hummus for Hunger" program sponsored by Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges, Israeli hip-hop is at the top of local Jewish students' playlists. The event brought together music lovers from the two Los Angeles-area commuter schools to listen to the Israeli hip-hop group dJOoKRoO, enjoy an Israeli meal and raise $300 for hunger- and hurricane-relief programs.
The evening was the brainchild of Jason Daks, a Valley College music student who also serves as one of several Jewish Peer Interns in the greater Los Angeles area. Trained by the Los Angeles Hillel Council to help generate excitement about Jewish campus life among uninvolved students, Daks works to harness the power of music in bringing together the area's diverse Jewish student population, which includes large numbers of Persian, Ashkenazi and Israeli Jews.
"Music is a way to bring people together. I want to bring them in to Hillel and show them that it can be a hip place – a place where people can make new friends, guys can meet girls and vice versa," Daks said. "Especially when you go to a community college, you know that you can have a place to meet people on and off campus."
Missy Green, the Steinhardt JCSC fellow at Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges, helped Daks tie in the tzedek (social justice) component to the program. Not only did students raise money for MAZON and Hurricane Katrina relief, they also collected food to be donated to MAZON and SOVA, a local food pantry.
"Both our students and staff felt the need to bring more social-action programs into Hillel," Green said. "And we never had a musical event like this that both staff and students wanted, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive."
The concert drew not only Pierce and Valley Colleges Hillel regulars, but also a lot of new faces, both Jewish and non-Jewish. Daks used myspace.com, a Web site especially popular with musicians and music lovers, to promote the event. The members of dJOoKRoO, Yotam and Mor Ben-Shimon, have already developed a large following on the site, which helped attract many of the newcomers.
Though the program was the first of its kind at Pierce and Valley Colleges Hillel, Daks knew he had found a winner right from the beginning.
"When the idea for 'Hip-Hop and Hummus' came to my head, I knew I had to plan the event, and I knew it was going to be a success. I know dJOoKRoO personally and thought it would be a great event," Daks said.
Daks is already at work planning several music-related events for the spring semester, including a jazz night and a combination rock/fashion show.
For more information about and to listen to djookroo, visit www.myspace.com/djookroo. Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges can also be found on the site at www.myspace.com/pvhillel.