From shawarmas to falafels, the Jewish Unity Fair had it all.
These are typical Middle Eastern foods, said Rabbi Chaim Hilel, who established Chabad of SLO.
“Shawarma is either lamb, turkey or chicken, slow roasted over a spit with Middle Eastern spices and carved to perfection,” Hilel said. “Falafel is actually a vegetarian mix of parsley, chickpeas and some herbs blended into a mush and deep fried.”
The food fair was a collaborative effort designed for everyone on campus to enjoy, Hillel president and graphic design junior Rachel Martin said. Hillel and Chabad worked with Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, Jewish sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi and Mustangs United For Israel (MUFI) to put on the event.
The fair consisted of several tables that created an assembly line of food and represented a different Jewish club on campus. Students started at one end and loaded up a piece of pita as they moved down the table, filling it with vegetables, hummus, falafel and shawarma.
The fair is to promote the year of Jewish unity, Hilel said.
“(We organized the event) first of all to show that there’s a Jewish presence at Cal Poly,” Hilel said. “It’s been growing steadily in the past six years since I’ve been working at Cal Poly as a rabbi, and the numbers are huge. Again, it’s Hakhel, the year of Jewish unity, and we’re just trying to do events that promote unity.”
Business administration sophomore Tal Edelstein represented MUFI at the fair. He manned a table with pamphlets and swag for any interested students.
“I started (MUFI) myself,” Edelstein said. “I’m interning for StandWithUS, which is an Israeli advocacy group, and I decided, ‘Why not bring a club to campus that shows all the positive aspects of Israel?’ I mean, if you look at this table there’s so much information that you can take — all the environmental stuff, the human aid, all the fantastic things that Israel brings to the world — and I really wanted our campus to be aware of that.”
Pro-Israel sentiment is a common goal among all of the clubs.
“I’m a strong supporter of Israel,” Martin said. “I love the Jewish community here. Israel and Judaism is really important to me, so that’s why I’m out here.”
“There’s also some negative Israeli sentiment in the media,” Hilel said. “And we want to just bring awareness that Jewish people are nice people that have good stuff going for them as well.”
Despite the 97 degree weather outside, the clubs served food to over 100 Cal Poly students through the hottest part of the day.
“I’m really hot and sweaty, but it’s all worth it for this,” Edelstein said.