Single students came to get lei’d Thursday night at Hillel’s fourth annual Kosher Love Luau.
The luau, which started at 7 p.m. and lasted about three hours, included dating-themed events such as Singled Out, Battle of the Sexes and a date auction. The Hillel center was decorated in a Hawaiian theme for the luau, complete with non-alcoholic blended tropical drinks, a DJ and free food for the participants. The event was free, but a $3 donation was suggested. All donations and proceeds from the date auction went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Joanna Katz, a sophomore communications major who helped organize the luau, said most of the money for the decorations, prizes and music came in the form of grants from the UCSB Office of Student Life and the Hillel Student Board. Katz said a great deal of planning went into the event and she hopes all the hard work will pay off.
“It’s great that we were able to get so many donations this year,” Katz said. “I hope it goes well; we’ve been working on this since before Thanksgiving.”
Jeremy Avitan, a sophomore business economics major, was in charge of managing food and beverages for the luau. Avitan said Hillel received $50 donations from Trader Joe’s, Costco and Isla Vista Market to help cover the cost of refreshments. The Elephant Bar donated gift certificates and Starbuck’s donated six one-pound bags of coffee beans to use as prizes for the event. Avitan said he was unsure how many people would show up and he could only guess how much food to purchase.
“We’re trying to get 200 [people], but we’ll see what happens,” Avitan said.
The first event of the luau was musical chairs, followed by a game modeled after the television show “Singled Out,” in which suitors competed to win a date with an eligible bachelor or bachelorette. Galeet Hovav, a sophomore double major in religious studies and global studies, was the bachelorette in the first part of the game.
“This is one of the biggest events of the year for Hillel,” Hovav said. “I think people are really into it; the energy is really high.”
Between games, gift certificates to local businesses were raffled off. Katz said she was pleased that increased advertising for this year’s luau attracted a diverse crowd.
“It’s split; there’s a lot of the usual people and a lot of people I’ve never seen before,” Katz said. “We really tried to reach out to the greek community this year.”
The last event of the night was the date auction, which Katz said is traditionally the most exciting event and a good fundraiser. Katz said the auction raised $850 in addition to $200 in at-the-door donations. Hillel raised a total of over $1,000 dollars to donate to Make-A-Wish.
Kara Cobb, a freshman political science major who helped organize the luau, said the auctioned dates included a complimentary catered dinner at the Hillel center. Cobb said luau participants tend to make generous bids because all proceeds from the event go to charity.
“The biggest thing is that people know that the money is going to charity, which is why they are willing to spend a hundred dollars or more in the auction,” Cobb said.
Yuliya Shapiro, a sophomore law and society major, said the crowd at the luau exceeded the organizers’ goal of 200 guests.
“It’s our best turnout of all the four years we’ve been doing it,” Shapiro said.
Cobb said the effort Hillel put into advertising the event in I.V. and UCSB paid off.
“It was a great turnout,” Cobb said. “I don’t think we could have worked any harder getting the word out about this.”
Aaron Levy, a biology student at Santa Barbara City College, said he enjoyed the event’s relaxed, fun atmosphere.
“I had fun,” Levy said. “It’s a good social environment for Jewish students to meet and interact.”
The bar with blended drinks was a major addition to this year’s event, Katz said. She said one of her hopes for next year’s luau is for even more people to show up, and for auction bidders to be even more generous.
“I hope it’s bigger and better next year,” Katz said.