In the aftermath of a presidential election that caused a national uproar, students found solace in a “Peace by Piece” event hosted by Stony Brook Hillel, a community for Jewish students.
The event, held in Student Activities Center Ballroom A on Nov. 9, the day after Election Day, aimed to promote and spread awareness about Israeli culture. Hillel hosts various events and holiday celebrations, offers leadership opportunities and coordinates with different organizations to provide internships in Israel.
“After everything going on after the election, it’s good they had this today,” Nadya Kadayifci, a junior computer science major, said. “It reminds us that even though there’s division in America, we can still come together with events like this.”
Several organizations including Birthright Israel, Onward Israel and Masa Israel Journey were set up at the event with free bags, reusable water bottles, pens, playing cards and informational flyers about their missions and opportunities.
Students explored the room from the food table to the cardboard cut-out photo booth to the three-sided interactive art piece. On two sides of the art piece, students were encouraged to write what peace means to them. On the other, people put plastic gloves on, pressed their hand onto a paper plate with the paint color of their choice, and placed it on the board with “peace” written in different languages.
The event featured free food, giveaways and crafts that captured student interest. Students also used the event to find unity and peace after the results of the presidential election just earlier that day caused nationwide tension.
Student’s quotes about peace on the poster board said things like, “I believe peace is when we can accept each other and live in harmony,” “Peace is when people learn to respect differences,” and “Peace is unity.”
The idea of the ‘Peace by Piece’ event came from Arielle Markiewicz, a business major and intern for Hillel through the Soroff Family Israel Fellowship. Because her mother is an art teacher, she felt inspired to combine her love of Israeli culture with art.
“I grew up with a mixture of Israel and art,” Markiewicz said. “I wanted to combine it to inspire peace and unity.”
Rachel Chabin, a sophomore Spanish and global science double major and member of Hillel, wanted to help out with the event to bring more attention to the current political climate of Israel.
“Israel is really misunderstood politically,” Chabin said. “There’s a lot more to that conversation, and this event invites people to come together to understand better.”
China Blue, a campus radio show geared toward local Chinese-American students and community members that have an interest in Chinese culture and music, had their own table set up at the event. Members of the club were showing students how to make a Chinese good-luck knot with red cord.
“The knot is symbolic of good luck and Chinese culture in general,” Wendy Zhao, a theater major and China Blue historian said, adding that in China, people have them in their homes and on their key chains to keep negative energy away. “I thought it’d be a good idea around midterm week to teach it and to spread some good luck around.”
At the event’s official closing time of 2 p.m., the ballroom was still alive with the sound of Israeli music videos playing on the projection screen and students posing in the photo booth and speaking to different organizations.
On the peace board there was a new entry, reading simply, “unity.”