Celebration of Israeli independence deserves space on campus

Rebecca Shafron, Contributing Writer

The following is an opinion article, and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo

Celebrated in the State itself with fireworks, speeches from government officials, and musical performances, Israeli Independence Day, or Yom Ha’atzmaut, deserves recognition and festivity on college campuses.

Tulane University is known to hold a large Jewish community. Within this vast population of Jewish students, few seem to show interest in Israel education, programming and culture, regardless of past experiences and upbringings.

The apathy around the State of Israel among students on campus is unbearable, so it is imperative to provide students with an easily accessible cultural connection to the State. After all, Israel is a democracy just like the United States, and this deserves celebration from people of all religions, not only Jews. Because of this, the idea to host an Israeli Independence Day Block Party right in the middle of campus came to fruition. 

With this ambitious vision comes the need for resources and funding, and thanks to the help of dedicated students, Hillel employees, and national pro-Israel organizations like the Israel on Campus Coalition, Hasbara, BBYO, AIPAC, Masa Israel, Hillel International, the Zionist Organization of America, Stand With Us and more, we are able to create the most powerful and impactful Israel Independence Day celebration on campus to date, as well as make Tulane a more connected campus.

In conceiving this celebration of Israeli Independence, the ultimate goal is to generate excitement and empowerment among three groups of students on campus: those who are Jewish, yet nervous or uncomfortable expressing their Judaism or solidifying their relationship with Israel; those who are not Jewish and have no relation to or acquaintance with the State; and those students who are blindsided by the conflict and receive all awareness about Israel from the news.

When the goal is accomplished, we will have the security of knowing that not only did we bring one of Israel’s most important celebrations successfully and dynamically to the campus of a highly influential university, but we also impacted the confidence of a Jewish student uncomfortable with his or her identity and the perspective of a student on the fence about Israel.

Israeli and New Orleans cultures intertwine in exciting ways. Events, diversities and histories are celebrated with festivals, block parties, parades and an overall expression of cultural identity. In New Orleans and more specifically at Tulane, the celebration of Israeli Independence Day is not only important to publicize my commitment to Israel and expose a new perspective on and approach to the State, but it will ensure the building of a strong, more cohesive and inclusive future for both the State of Israel and for the Jewish people, on Tulane’s campus and beyond.

Rebecca Shafron is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane college. She can be reached at [email protected]