South Puget Sound Community College celebrated Jewish Heritage Month for the first time. According to the art curator/event planner for the Diversity and Equity Center (DEC), Cassandra Johnson, the month of May usually masks any Jewish attention with the popular Cinco de Mayo celebration (which is a purely American celebration) and the yearly Luau. May is also the month where Pacific Islander and European culture is recognized.
Johnson took it upon herself to make the Jewish celebration happen in the SUB on Thursday, May 19.
“It is important for people to know about and understand Jewish identity,” she said.
Playing at the celebration was a local Jewish band, called Erev Rav, who has played at weddings, sacred events, and The Northern in downtown Olympia.
Erev Rav (whose name means “Mixed Multitudes,” according to their website) is from the Pacific Northwest, and does Jewish covers as well as original material. According to their website, erevravmusic.com, they incorporate elements of funk, reggae, bee-bop, rock, latin rhythm, and gypsy jazz into their music.
“Everyone in this band is at a virtuoso-level,” Johnson said.
The band played a large set while students gathered in the SUB to listen and enjoy the free Challah (bread) provided by the San Fransisco Street Bakery. Support for this event also came from members at the DEC and the Anthropology department’s Dale Croes. Part of the festivities are for students to identify with and enjoy, and another part is to help students understand what the DEC is, said Johnson.
The DEC is a space for everyone on campus. The DEC staff work to put on events, put together groups and hold group meetings, have in-depth discussions, and “promote diverse student retention.”
For many staff and students, the DEC office serves as a “home away from home,” Johnson said.
“The biggest barrier the DEC has is that students think it’s only for certain people, or just QSA (Queer-Straight Alliance), and/or minorities,” said Johnson.
The DEC has a miniature library containing books, movies, and other diversity-related media outlets for student checkout.