The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Newly founded: The Israeli Culture Club shows representation and unity for Israeli students on campus

Sara Lahr
Junior Ariana Tsur holding the Israeli flag while junior Ori Gillai looks at their club sign.

Israeli students at Los Altos High School created the Israeli Culture Club (ICC) this year to represent Israeli culture. While the Jewish Student Union (JSU) is a well established home for many Jewish students on campus, the founders of ICC believed that LAHS was lacking a space for specifically Israeli students. 

Junior Ori Gillai took his strong passion for his Israeli identity, and shared it with the rest of the LAHS community by creating a club for students who wanted to immerse themselves in Israeli culture and history. 

“I thought making a place where people who shared an Israeli identity could talk about it would be beneficial,” Ori said. 

The idea of the club first came to Ori in the summer of 2023, and he started his mission to recruit board members in late August by reaching out to Israeli peers on campus. Together with Junior Ariana Tsur — who went to the same Jewish middle school as Ori — he founded the club for the 2023-24 school year.

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The club’s first meeting took place on October 19, 2023, in which members discussed the October 7 attack. This attack, where the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took approximately 250 hostage, led Israel to declare war on Hamas. As the war continues, Ariana expressed frustration about negativity it has created around Israel.

“It’s important to recognize that Israel is also a country separate from the conflict, and a beautiful, culturally enriched country at that,” Ariana said. 

She feels that she has been forced to explain and at certain points even justify her identity to people who take their views on the conflict to a personal level. 

“We deserve to be prideful about being Israeli without having to defend our identity,” Ariana said. 

ICC strives to create an open and welcoming space where Israeli people can share their experiences and struggles, while also allowing students from different backgrounds to learn about Israeli culture. 

ICC hosts events for various Israeli holidays — the board chose to focus on Israeli holidays, not all Jewish holidays, because they wanted their club to be specific to the Israeli part of Jewish culture. They have celebrated Israeli Independence Day, Remembrance Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Aliyah Day, which commemorates the Jewish people entering the land of Israel. 

“This is the basis of the founding of our club: Israel and Judaism, while at times intertwined, are not the same thing,” Ariana said. 

Ariana said that Israeli culture is just one aspect of the broader Jewish culture and faith, and that the club helps support and connect people of that specific group. This is the reason for the two different Jewish-related clubs on campus, ICC and JSU.

“Both clubs do a good job of bringing Jewish students together, which is important to our community,” JSU board member junior Talia Frank said.

ICC meets on Thursdays in Room 301. Learn more about them on Insta @lahs_icc.

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Sara Lahr
Sara Lahr, Staff Writer

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