Marking the ups and downs

By Eylon Aslan-Levy, May 19, 2011
Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut

Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut

As a Jewish student living away from home, it is during festivals that I miss home the most. But as an Israeli too, Yom Hazikaron is an especially disorientating experience.

Thankfully I didn't feel homesick while organising Oxford JSoc's Yom Hazikaron service, because I have a good Jewish mother and father who schlepped from London to Oxford.

It was truly touching how many people came to commemorate Israel's fallen, read poems and sing the traditional Israeli songs that always make Yom Hazikaron so moving. Everyone was acutely aware that had they been born in Israel, they would have had to swap the university campus for the army camp, and that made a profound impression.

The switch to Yom Ha'atzmaut was inevitably schizophrenic, as it is in Israel. Draped in Israeli flags we went to a cocktail bar, where JSoc had organised a perfect "Tel Aviv" night, with an exclusive blue and white (well, blue and ice) cocktail on the specials board: the Hebrew Hammer. Next year, we'll have to work on mixing the Zionist Zinger and Judean Juicer.

If you think the whole world is against us, you're wrong. I saw with my own eyes the non-Jewish students, a little tipsy, who danced the hora in circles around the club floor, covered head-to-foot in Israeli bunting. The sight was, quite simply, priceless. Take note – JSocs are at the forefront of effective hasbara. Once cheap drinks are on offer, the closet Zionist in every person comes out in full flourish!

Eylon Aslan-Levy studies PPE at Brasenose College, Oxford University

Last updated: 3:22pm, May 19 2011