Students host cross-cultural dinner to celebrate Hanukkah, Diwali

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From left to right, Eitan Yarmush, Michael Bloom and Ari Johary talk and eat at the first Hanukkah-Diwali dinner Thursday night at the Texas Hillel Center.
Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

In an effort to encourage the Jewish and Hindu campus communities to learn about each other’s traditions, Texans for Israel hosted the first Hanukkah-Diwali Dinner Thursday night at Texas Hillel Center.

The event did not fall on either holiday, but celebrated both Hanukkah and Diwali with a night full of dreidel playing, Indian and Israeli music and a finale of sparkler waving. The celebration was a way to educate students about a faith they might not be familiar with, according to architectural engineering sophomore Tamar Solomon, who organized the event.

“I believe that the only thing that separates people is their experiences,” Solomon said. “Having cross-cultural events like this dinner encourages members of each community to learn about a faith not their own. I think the University is accepting of all faiths, but many students don’t know enough about faiths other than their own. We planned the event with different organizations within the Indian community to get each group of people to become more knowledgeable about each other in a fun environment,”

This event was a way to eliminate any incorrect beliefs people might have about another religion or culture, according to fine arts senior Michael Paul.

“It is important to encourage understanding and celebrations like this because it dispels myths and misassumptions about cultures different to your own, because you see what the people are really like, not a preformed stereotype about what they are like,” Paul said. “Sometimes you can find out new, surprising things about the other cultures. I think we should not be afraid to say we have faith in God, and these events encourage that.”

An invitation was extended to all students, regardless of their faith. This reflects the accepting nature of the University and the student body as a whole, public health freshman Richa Patel said.

“The event was a really fun way for me to celebrate Diwali while also learning a little bit more about Jewish culture,” Patel said. “This student body is a really accepting group that encourages the celebration of many different cultures. I have never seen any religion, group or culture not be welcomed here at the University. I think that this event reflects that with its open invitation. It was a great way to celebrate the acceptance of two different cultures and generally just a really fun night.”