UCSB Hillel will be hosting its first Salsa Night this evening, promising an evening of food, dance and prize giveaways to benefit Argentina’s Jewish community.

The free event, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Hillel building on 781 Embarcadero del Mar, is an effort to raise funds for the United Jewish Communities Argentina Economic Relief Fund. The fund gives money for employment services, medicine, food and subsidized housing. They will also raise money for other relief organizations that serve global Jewish and non-Jewish communities.

Sarah Jaffe, event chair and Hillel member, said the recent economic crisis in Argentina has severely affected the country’s Jewish population. Of the 250,000 Jews in Argentina, she said 25 percent currently live below the poverty line.

“This is our first Salsa Night, and it’s hopefully the start of several events reaching out to global Jewish communities,” Jaffe said.

In addition to free salsa dancing lessons, organizers will be serving free Latin American food and showing a documentary on Argentina’s Jewish population. There will also be a raffle for prizes donated by several local sponsors including Freebirds, Silvergreens, Wherehouse Music and STA Travel. Raffle tickets cost $2 each.

In addition to funds raised by the raffle, Hillel will be accepting cash, check and credit card donations.

“We’re expecting about 60 people to come, and if we make over $200, we’ll be happy,” Jaffe said.

Hillel received a grant from the Santa Barbara Jewish Federation to fund the event. The grant enables all proceeds to go directly to charity.

Hillel has put on several social action events this year, including a senior prom at the Friendship Manor retirement home in Isla Vista, but the Salsa Night is its first globally focused charity event, Jaffe said. The fundraiser was inspired by the recent Spitzer Conference in Washington, D.C., where members of UCSB’s Hillel came in contact with Argentine Hillel students.