Texas Hillel students Alyssa Moskowitz, Alit Krohn, Paul Kleinman and Ben Freed enjoy the Israel Block Party festivities.
March 11 is now known as Israel Block Party Day in Texas, thanks to Texas Hillel Foundation, which applied to pass a resolution declaring the day official in Texas.
This year's block party at Texas Hillel provided an apolitical view of Israel and gave opportunities to students and the community to learn more about the culture of the country.
By modeling the block party day around the theme “Now and Then,” the event showed different sectors of Israel in the past and the present, illustrating the great effect Israel's presence has had.
Students participate in Israel Dancing amidst the celebration.
Highlights included a performance by Israeli rock star Berry Sakharof, a marketplace and booths with information pertaining to six focus areas about the State, as well as a variety of Israeli food, such as baklava and shwarma. Co-sponsors, including MASA, set up booths providing information on visiting, studying, and working in Israel, and a shuk offered Israeli products for purchase.
Texas Hillel Jewish Agency's Israel Fellow Yoni Cohen believes that the purpose of the event was to showcase Israel not just to the Jews, but to everyone in the Austin area.
Rabbi David Komerofsky, executive director of Texas Hillel, as well as the student government president sat in a dunking booth to raise money to build a playground in Sderot.
Tents outside Hillel provided opportunities for children to decorate a kippah and participate in an "archeological dig" with faux gold coins, instructed by a professor of archeology. Cold weather moved part of the event indoors, causing the Palestinian Solidarity Committee to cancel its scheduled response to the event.
Israeli Rock Legend Berry Sakharof plays to a standing-room-only crowd at the culmination of the evening.
Cohen said that he was very proud of the success of the event, which brought more than 2,000 people to the Abe and Annie Seibel Building.
A week before the event, Texas Hillel applied to pass a resolution making March 11, 2009 officially Israel Block Party Day. State Representative Al Edwards, a longtime supporter of Israel, sponsored the bill. The resolution passed on the 11th, with members of Texas Hillel present in the State Capitol chambers. Rabbi David Komerofsky, Yoni Cohen, Scott Kammerman, Ellie Agnew, and Allison Goldman were invited to stand up to be recognized for their achievement.
"The Legislature's recognition of the Israel Block Party and Representative Edwards' leadership is a significant source of encouragement and inspiration for the hundreds of volunteers who have made this program a success," Komerofsky said.
Israeli Block Party Resolution (PDF File 118Kb)
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