Elizabeth, a six-month-old camel, walked through the Quad Wednesday in celebration of Israel Day.
We don’t want to give the wrong impression, co-organizer Mike Plostock said. Camels don’t walk down the street (in Israel). But it’s different and exciting, and we’re trying to get people to come to the Quad.
Israel Day is not an official national celebration, said Greg Schofer, assistant director of Hillel. He said the day was picked to increase awareness of Israeli issues and encourage students to travel to Israel.
Israel Day is not Jewish Day, Plostock said.
Hamagshimim, a Zionist organization on campus, sponsored Israel Day, Plostock said. Its main goal was the promotion of student travel to Israel. He said numerous Jewish organizations will be passing out information on alternative ways to get to Israel, including through a kibbutz (a settlement in Israel), study abroad at an Israeli university or travel.
The United Jewish Council is raising funds through its Half Shekel Campaign. In ancient times, every Jewish person in the world would donate a Half Shekel to show his or her unity and support of the temple in Jerusalem, Plostock said. The UJC is continuing in this tradition and has raised about $2,000 in the three-week fund-raising campaign.
According to a GW UJC Half Shekel Campaign pamphlet, the money raised will go to support doctors providing medical supplies for refugees in Rwanda, the development of new Hillels and emergency counseling and shelter for abused women and children.
We’re not just helping Jewish communities in distress, but all communities in distress, said Tybee Kiejdan, a member of the UJC.
(The group) is trying to get every person to give money whether it is a penny or $20, Plostock said.
This is the third year GW raised funds through the Half Shekel Campaign, said Sam Kaplan, the campus campaign chairperson.
This fund-raising event is something that should appeal to all people, not just Jewish students, Kaplan said.
Organizations gave away GW paraphernalia and free dinners. The major drawing for the event was a $500 scholarship to subsidize travel to Israel. If the student decided to participate in the Young Judea program, Destination Israel, he or she will receive an extra $500, Schofer said.
Program Board also worked on the event. This is the first event of International Month.
Representatives from the Israeli Embassy passed out information on Israeli events.
I want to help create some sense of connection, said Mitch Gersten, academic liason for the embassy. We try to present Israel to the University by providing resources.
Wednesday also was the first day of the trial of 13 Iranian-Israelis who are charged with espionage.
(Israeli Day) is a great opportunity to raise awareness of Israeli issues, Plostock said.