February 5, 2017

The Israel Club Renaissance

Kim Robins ’17

The Israel Club is one of GOA’s best-known extracurricular activities. Almost every GOA student has participated in the sixth grade El-Al flight on Yom Haatzmaut, seen club members selling Frappuccinos during Parent-Teacher Conferences, or shared jelly beans with the Rishonim in the Israel Office.
Despite its reputation, the Israel Club has struggled in recent years to maintain members and provide consistently engaging programming. This year’s Israel Club board is changing that through what junior Dina Doctoroff, the president of the club, calls a “mixture of a more organized board, more members and more events.”
One of the board’s points of emphasis is communication with current and prospective club members. According to junior Shachar Kessler, the vice president of Israel Club, the club’s past struggles were due to a lack of communication between board members, the Rishonim and the student body.
“No one knew when events and meetings were or what they were,” Kessler said.
The club is fixing this gap in communication through an increased presence on social media, specifically Instagram. Board members and Rishonim continue to advertise on bulletin boards and posters. These efforts appear to be working, since an average of 16 percent of the high school student body attends Israel Club’s weekly meetings and some events have attracted as many as 50 students.
An extension of this initiative is the recruitment of students from certain grades, specifically freshmen. In fact, the club organized a freshmen-only event immediately after Na’ale.
“We knew that coming back from Israel, [the freshmen] would be interested [in Israel Club],” Kessler said. “We invited them to talk to us about their trip and to just have fun.”
This event was very successful; the overwhelming majority of the freshman class participated and freshmen have attended every Israel Club meeting since then.
This year’s Israel Club also emphasizes the use of innovative and interactive programs. Board members have run a variety of programs including social meetings and Iron Chef-inspired events, ensuring that Israel Club provides something for everybody. The club’s original Kahoots have been the most popular program, because they combine the excitement of technology and competition with trivia about Israel, the Rishonim and club members.
These and other programs, such as the club’s upcoming hummus-making competition, are designed to make the content of Israel Club meetings more meaningful. Members are fully engaged in each club activity, which allows them to directly contribute to the success of the club and encourages them to come back every week.
In their quest for attractive programs, the members of the Israel Club board have been sure to incorporate food into their meetings, either by making it the main focus of the activity or simply having Israeli chocolate available for students to eat.
“Our promise to bring food to every event aided in the membership effort,” Doctoroff said.
Now, students have increased incentive to attend meetings and are more likely to remain involved in Israel Club after their initial exposure.
Each of these new efforts has generated excitement about, interest in and attendance at Israel Club. With the continued leadership of the Board and the support of the student body, Kessler’s hope that “the club will grow stronger and that it will soon return to the size and power it once had” is coming to fruition.
The library is no longer the best place to eat lunch on Wednesdays; that distinction now goes to Israel Club meetings in room 202.

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