Coming from a strong Jewish Israeli background, I came to Towson University wanting to explore what else is out there. It wasn’t until Yom Ha’atzmaut my freshman year that I decided to take part in Jewish life on campus. My passion for Israel made me want to take part in planning the Yom Ha’atzmaut event on campus.
After dedicating a lot of time and effort to Israel’s Independence Day, I started considering taking on a bigger role with Israel programming on campus. Israel will always be a home to me; I lived in Israel for eight years and go almost every summer to visit my friends and family. I thought that by taking a bigger role, I would be able to share these amazing experiences of Israeli culture on Towson’s campus and hopefully discover other students who have the same passion. I found that to be true. Being involved with Israel also enhanced my Jewish identity.
Now, we have Tigers for Israel.
The year started with a great partnership with the Israeli Embassy of Washington D.C., to bring an Israeli filmmaker to campus who was touring in the U.S. with his documentary, “Invisible Men.” Students also had the opportunity to ask questions and meet him personally. This event was a great start to what Tigers for Israel is gradually becoming. Throughout the year, more and more students gained interest and wanted to become involved, which showed how much potential there is on Towson’s campus. We also had the opportunity of meeting with a professional from the Israel on Campus Coalition to help us get started. The hard work really paid off this year at a huge successful barbecue for Yom Ha’atzmaut in the spring, with hundreds of students celebrating, eating Israeli food and participating in Israeli folk dancing.
Since many students go on Birthright and other organized trips to Israel, having an outlet for those students when they come back to school will help them continue their meaningful experiences at Towson University and allow them to make a difference. We decided that a goal of ours would be not to focus primarily on politics, but show more of what Israel has to offer — behind the headlines. What all of us share in common is our love for Israeli culture and wanting to create a pro-Israel community on campus.
This school year was a huge turning point with our creating this first official Israel group on campus. We have had great support through Hillel students and staff, and next year we hope to take another step and make Tigers for Israel an independent group. This is a great opportunity to appeal to a wide range of students.
Israel plays such a big part in understanding our Jewish identity, and by having a pro-Israel group we can not only help connect students to their Jewish heritage, but also include a wide range of students who would like to be more educated about Israel or who simply would like to enjoy Israeli culture.
Hila Arbell is a student at Towson University.