students played educational games that tested their knowledge of Israeli culture
At iFest, students played educational games that tested their knowledge of Israeli culture. Running the spin-the-wheel challenge are (from left) Thalia Hassid, Leah Rehmus and Rachel Bigley. Kathryn Bold / University Communications

UCI’s Ring Mall has been transformed into a colorful street festival this week as students stage the second annual iFest to celebrate Israel’s 61st birthday.

“It’s been amazing to see students come together – and maybe skipping a class or two – because they’re excited to be part of something bigger than themselves and promote the culture,” says iFest co-chair Maya Rozov, a fourth-year political science major and vice president of Anteaters for Israel, one of the main event sponsors. “We want to create a good feeling on campus. It’s just a big festival.”

Rozov and about 30 other students set up an outdoor fair inspired by Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, complete with vendors, food, live music, belly dancers and other street performers.

Educational exhibits include posters on Israel’s technology, agriculture, diversity, environment and other contributions, and an iFest iPOD challenge, in which students have 60 seconds to walk through a makeshift tunnel plastered with facts about Israel, then are quizzed on what they remember for a chance to win an iPOD.

“We’re just trying to spread the culture and heritage, and get people immersed in the Israeli lifestyle,” says David Lopatin, third-year political science and economics major.

I-Fest continues through Friday.