Hillel Stony Brook, an organization for Jewish students on campus, held its third annual IsraelLoveFest on Wednesday night in the Union Ballroom, run by Hillel fellow Tal Mansur.
Participants were asked to submit pieces that attested to their love for Israel.
Between the various essays, paintings, videos and unique submissions, Mansur wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.
With all the excitement and love shared at the event, Mansur wanted to make one thing in particular clear.
“This is not a political event,” he said. Mansur made it clear that he would rather not talk about the politics of Israel and he hoped people would enjoy the art and share love for Israel regardless of circumstance.
In total, there were 22 submissions made to the event.
With some surprises, like a stop motion video and pottery made to reflect people’s love for Israel, Mansur called the event a “wonderful success.”
After all the pictures were taken in front of the large Israeli flag, the judges came out to declare the winners of the event.
Dr. Fran Zak, one of the members that helps support Hillel on campus and a former SBU writing professor of 18 years, gave a quick few words before the winners were announced.
“Thank you for attending a beautiful event even with your busy schedules… I always taught that when you read writing you have to hear the writer in the writing and I heard each one of you in these pieces,” Zak said.
Mor Keshet-Levi, who is also associated with the Hillel Foundation, presented the awards to the top three submissions.
“When we started this three years ago, the vision was for a platform to express their (students) voice,” Keshet-Levi said.
Cassandra Clark took home the third place prize of $100, Glen Higgins took home the second place prize of $175, and Rachel Chabin took home the first place prize of $250.
Higgins, who works as a Interfaith Network Engagement Intern for Hillel, found inspiration from his mentor.
“I always try to attend Hillel events but it was the motivation from our Israeli fellow Tal & my mentor Shaina (Abrams) who convinced me to share my story,” Higgins said.
Displaying work is something Higgins does not normally do .
“It is rare for me to be able to show my artistic side, let alone be rewarded for it. All the submissions were great and I was so surprised I received second place,” Higgins said.
Clark, a freshman at Stony Brook University, has never visited Israel but explained her motivation to get involved in as many ways as possible.
“I was inspired to submit something because I’m a freshman and I’m trying to get involved on campus in as many ways as possible,” she said.
“In my opinion, there was so many people who also could have won,” Clark said. “I think I’ll submit something again next year.”