Wind and cloudy skies couldn’t stop “J-Lats,” Princeton’s Jewish-Latinx student organization, from hosting an outdoor “Brazilian Carnival” on Saturday, March 26. The event drew dozens of students to the front yard of Forbes College, where they celebrated Jewish and Latinx communities on campus.
Scheduled deliberately between the Jewish holiday of Purim and Brazilian Carnival, the celebration was organized to emphasize intersections between the two traditions, festival organizers told The Daily Princetonian. The event featured Latin music, dancing, beaded necklaces, and glittery masquerade masks, with many students gathering around carnival games, such as ring- and bean bag-toss.
“We were thinking of something that would fuse both our Jewish and Latino identities, and we figured that Purim and Brazilian Carnival have a lot in common,” said J-Lats Co-Vice President Ian Fridman ’25. “It's a celebration of cheerfulness, identifying moments and making them happy.”
For Fridman, the support the J-Lats community has given him is invaluable. (Fridman is a contributing photographer for the ‘Prince.’)
“It makes me understand the parts of my identity [that are] synergetic and not independent from one another,” he said. “I’m not Jewish. And I’m not Latino. I am a Jewish-Latino.”
J-Lats President Alex Egol ’24 explained that the festival was “a very unique way to celebrate both of our identities at the same time.”
In planning the event, J-Lats secured funding from the Undergraduate Student Government Projects Board, as well as the Latin American Studies Department and the Center for Jewish Life. They also coordinated with the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students to reserve the Forbes front lawn for the afternoon.
“Having a Carnival/Purim party was always something I wanted to do at J-Lats,” said the club’s co-vice president Helena Frudit ’25. “We applied [for funding] because we wanted to make the event open to everyone.”
One highlight of the event was the empanadas and churro food truck, supplied by local food vendor HotPanada. One marketing tactic for the event was calling it an “Emparnaval,” mixing the words “empanada” and “carnival.”
“I’m currently eating a beef empanada, which is delicious,” said Gillian Rosenberg ’25, an attendee at the carnival.
But free food is not all that drew Rosenberg to the event. Ultimately, for her, the event was about community.
“This is a great way to show support for a group within the Jewish community,” she explained. “I’m Jewish, and there’s so much diversity to the community. I think it’s really important that we all come out to support and celebrate each other.”
Fletcher Block ’25 expressed a similar sentiment.
“I want to support the J-Lats, and enjoy myself,” he said. “I’m happy to be here.”
Egol explained that J-Lats was one of the first clubs he joined on campus, and it gave him a sense of belonging he had never experienced before.
“I had always had this piece of my identity, but […] I kind of put them into separate buckets,” he explained. “Having the opportunity to join [J-Lats] has been awesome. We throw fun events, and make people happy through food, music and culture.”
Izzy Jacobson is a news staff writer and features contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at email@example.com