Israel’s culture will be in the spotlight on the Tempe campus this week as students of Hillel at ASU kick off their annual Sababa Week to promote the country’s diversity and spirit to ASU students of all backgrounds and ethnicities.
The word “sababa” translates to groovy or cool in English, and this is exactly the description Hillel Executive Director Debbie Yunker Kail is looking for when it comes to the upcoming week of events.
“So much of the Israeli culture is about being relaxed, spending time with your friends and eating awesome food,” she said. “We’re just trying to bring that out onto the campus.”
Hillel sponsors the entire week along with several other community partners. However, the actual planning of the events was largely student-based through the group Sun Devils for Israel.
The week officially started Sunday with a dodgeball tournament that put all proceeds toward an Israeli charity, Save A Child’s Heart, which helps with heart surgeries for children from all over the world.
“They pay for everything, and they have a home that kids live in before and after the medical procedures that they go through,” Kail said. “They are a really phenomenal service that doctors from all different backgrounds are providing in Israel.”
Nursing junior Maddi Kannel, an SDI member, said she is very passionate about bringing the culture of Israel to the rest of ASU.
“It’s important for people to know about Israel and to have an opinion about Israel,” she said. “I’m a fan of other cultures and Israel’s culture, language and way of life has always been something that’s really cool for me to learn about.”
Throughout the week, Hillel is also holding carnival-themed lunches that are free and open to all backgrounds. The first lunch is Tuesday at Hayden Lawn, and the next one will follow on Wednesday at the Barrett Lawn.
Jennifer Jalowiec, Hillel operations manager, said it’s a great way for students who care about Israel at ASU to reach out and promote their cause.
“It really gives students involved with Hillel the opportunity to tell everybody why Israel is awesome and all the really cool things it does as a country,” she said. “They’ll be having a carnival with a bunch of games and food just to have people come out to celebrate Israel as a culture and not necessarily all the other things that are going on there right now.”
Members of Hillel are making it a point to draw in audiences that usually would not be interested in a subject such as Israel.
Hillel adviser Adva David was born and raised in Israel and wants to make sure that the theme of community and acceptance for all is displayed throughout the week.
“Our message is really an open celebration of Israel with everybody,” she said. “(Students) can all come and have a little taste of our celebration together.”
The message that Hillel members continue to stress about the week-long celebration is the fact that everybody should know about Israeli culture, Kail said.
“The goal is really to present different perspectives and understandings of Israel, so people can just learn more about the nature of society in Israel,” she said. “We’re helping to present a more rounded-out understanding of the entire Israeli culture, and we hope that it will complement what people already know about the region.”
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