The Cirque du Hillel Fashion Show, sponsored by Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College, is a far cry from Julie Ganiks Siberian town that she left at age 11 when posters urging Jews to get out were plastered everywhere.
Yet with Hillel at Brooklyn College, a beneficiary agency of UJA-Federation, she has continued her Jewish journey, which last weekend had Ganik modeling designs by students at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Pratt Institute.
It was part of Hillel at Brooklyn Colleges effort to use their annual fashion show to teach core Jewish values like tzedakah and donate money to a charitable organization.
This year the student committee chose to raise money for UJA-Federation of New York because it represents many different agencies, says Nadya Drukker, acting executive director of Hillel at Brooklyn College.
More than 300 people attended the fashion show that raised over $3,000.
Highlights Israeli culture, too
The show, which played off the popular Cirque du Soleil theme, was decorated with branches to create an enchanted forest look.
Student models like Ganik featured both casual styles and formal evening gowns as they walked down the runway to the beat of Israeli music.
We chose this music to highlight Israeli culture as part of the show, notes Julia Tyumentseva, student executive coordinator for the fashion show.
For Tyumentseva and the other Hillel volunteers, the show was clearly a labor of love. Weve been working on the project every Sunday from morning to evening for the past three months, Tyumentseva says.
The fashion show started fifteen years ago as a way to recruit students to Hillel at Brooklyn College and became an annual event.
The goal at Hillel is for every student to find their own Jewish journey, explains Drukker.
For Ganik, who is a double major in psychology and biology, Hillel at Brooklyn College has helped continue her Jewish exploration, including a Birthright trip to Israel, courses in Jewish studies, and a renewed commitment to keeping Shabbat.
In this country, its a wonderful opportunity not just to take a course, but to grow and have a future, Ganik says and adds that the fashion show gave her a chance to raise funds that will help the Jewish people.