Despite some technical difficulties and a fog-triggered fire alarm causing the A Night in Tel Aviv event to end early, president of the Jewish Student Union, Matt Dornfeld, deems the night a great success.
The event was the brainchild of Dornfeld himself, an idea that came to him at the beginning of the semester. While presenting the idea to his fellow board members, he assured them he would not allow the event to “be less than awesome.” Also being the president of the Jewish Leaders in Business, Dornfeld has a great opportunity to creatively expose Jewish culture to the community.
Tel Aviv is the second most populated city in Israel, located on the West Bank of the country. It is also the number one party city in the world. For a long time now, the news from the Middle East has been dominated by reports of violence, Iraeli/Palestinian conflict, terrorism, and anti-Semitism. While questioning the United States’ involvement and support of Israel amidst current turmoil often leave our citizens feeling bitter, but in an effort to clear the air and educate, Dornfeld brings forth the positive aspects of the foreign culture to UMass.
“This is what being in Israel and having fun is all about. It’s not about what you hear in the news…it’s lighter than that…we tried to bring as much of that to Amherst as possible,” he said.
In the midst of planning the event, Dornfeld reported to have had a dream of people saying “I love Tel Aviv because…” This dream turned into a reality as Dornfeld captured people’s opinions of Tel Aviv from all over the world on camera.
The doors of the Student Union Ball Room opened at 9 p.m. on Thursday, November 17. Students paid $1 for admission, while general admission cost $5. They hit capacity (600 persons) in 90 minutes. Needless to say, Dornfeld was pleased. They raised $621.50. A percentage of the proceeds were sent to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
The first 200 guests received a free t-shirt, and glow sticks were being given away by the handful. (1,600 were purchased in advance). Other giveaways included two Ultra Music Festival tickets, two pairs of tickets to the Russell Brand Comedy Show at the Mullins Center and several gift cards to local businesses. Upon stepping foot into the ballroom itself, the fog lifted (literally) and presented a crowd of people dancing, illuminating black lights, and glow-in-the-dark beach balls bouncing across the sea of people.
Dornfeld hired two DJs for the dance, BamBooRa, and Dunna. To accomplish this, Dornfeld sought the help of his vice president, Will Saltus, who promotes for Massaschusetts Electronic Dance Music Community (MassEDMC). BamBooRa is from Boston, while Dunna (Tim McDunna) is actually a student at UMass. Both put on an energetic and well-received show.
However, some technical difficulties resulting from combining state-of-the-art Theatrix equipment and UMass’ out-of-date accommodating systems silenced the music several times during the first hour and a half of the show. Perhaps this was foreshadowing the real showstopper. At around 10:45 p.m., the fire alarms in the Student Union began to screech, set off from the fog machine. Dornfeld expressed his confusion, considering he “covered every base [he] could cover” to ensure safety and legality. As attendees were ushered outside, the fire department soon arrived. Most everyone patiently waited outside in the cold, hoping for a chance to get back inside and continue dancing until 1 a.m.
Dornfeld is confident that a second night in Tel Aviv will invade UMass sometime next semester that will sure be bigger and better. He wants to raise capacity from 600 to 800 and give away more exciting prizes. In spite of the hours that students missed out on, Dornfeld felt that “people really loved it for what it was.” His drive and positive outlook will surely allow for the JSU and friends to collaborate on a reincarnation of A Night in Tel Aviv that will bring even more attendees, and will more importantly, “promote Israel advocacy.”
The UMass Belly Dance Club, Student Alliance for Israel, and both the JSU and the JLB co-sponsored the event.