By: Hagit Galatzer
If you have elementary age kids you are probably familiar with the various theme days and evenings your school hosts on a regular basis. From crazy hat day to PJ night, a western Hoedown and my personal favorite, the International night. This is a celebration of diversity and a homage to the countries and heritage we all came from before we became Americans.
The main element in the display table is the tri-fold poster board. This conveniently folding board should display pictures, trivia details, maps and other tidbits on our homeland, Israel.
As we know from other projects that require massive presentation efforts, like science fair or building a leprechaun trap (?), the preparation of the board relies entirely on the parents. Sure, the kids always start with a lot of ideas and enthusiasm but after the first two hours they get tired and go to bed and you are left pulling an all-nighter. A smart alternative is to simply borrow a ready-made board from friends who live in a different part of town and already had their International night. It is whispered that there is actually one original board that travels back and forth between the rolling hills of Redmond and the open Sammamish plateaus and therefore it must be carefully guarded. In the past there have been unfortunate cases of boards that were thrown out by mistake during a house move or spring cleanup and the result was huge damages to the image of Israel and its geopolitical perception among the respectable nations represented in the elementary school.
Food wise, we may never be able to compete with the rich and ancient culinary heritage of China and India. Their tables are always bursting with colorful aromatic creations and huge lines of hungry parents and students. Since Falafel, our national food, is best served fresh and hot right out of the frying oil, we are forced to do what we do best, improvise. About two weeks before the evening, we gather for an emergency brain-storming meeting to come up with a lovely, tasty dish that also requires minimal preparation…
In previous years we successfully utilized Costco-style strategies and offered samples of Israel favorite staples such as Bamba, Osem soup croutons and Vaflim. This year we decided to go with a famous Israeli desert: Chocolate balls. Apparently it is a known desert in many other cultures as well, but the easy recipe makes it mommy-friendly and certified Israeli.
The evening also includes a traditional costume parade. The Japanese have Kimonos, The Indians have colorful Saris and the German have the famous “Lederhosen” suspenders-pants. Junior wants to be a part of the parade and represent her heritage, but for the life of me, I have no idea what is an Israeli traditional outfit?
I recall the first International night we attended. I proudly walked beside my daughter that was wearing a white dress, flowers in hair and holding a basket of fruits (It was around Shavuot), the kid next to her was wearing Beitar Jerusalem soccer uniform, and next to them was a girl in flip-flops and a bathing suit. The delegation also included a tiny IDF soldier and a kid wrapped in a prayer shawl. By all means, a miniature representation of the Israeli society.
By the end of the evening we are full with national pride and also a stomach ache. It’s important to try all the tables food sample as to not offend anyone and create an international incident, it’s the least we can do to support our country. See you in the next International night and don’t forget to save the poster!