Six contestants danced and mingled their way through the Dolibois room in Shriver Center Thursday night, all vying for the title of Nice Jewish Boy.
Miami’s debut Nice Jewish Boy (NJB) Pageant is a fundraiser for HawkPAC, a political action committee under Students for Israel at Miami that works directly with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
“This year is really exciting because we have Miami’s biggest ever delegation going to the AIPAC conference in D.C.,” HawkPAC co-president junior Hannah Stein said. “There’s going to be 20 students going, so we thought we’d do something new for the fundraiser.”
The idea for a NJB pageant was inspired by a successful similar pageant held at the University of Pittsburgh every year.
Contestants performed a choreographed dance, demonstrated their talent and answered trivia questions about Israel in front of an audience of roughly 40 students and faculty members. Each contestant had a “pageant mom,” another HawkPAC student to egg them on and cheer for their NJB.
“Finding a talent was the hardest part,” first-year Max Nguyen, one of the contestants, said. “I originally tried bowling, which is surprisingly hard, so now I’m doing storytelling.”
Energy in the room was high.
One “pageant mom” interrupted Nguyen to ask how it would feel to be second place to his NJB Avi Dave, another contestant, who was the winner of the Instagram competition.
Prior to the pageant, each contestant competed to get the most Instagram “likes” on their NJB post. The winning contestant received extra points from the judges.
For the talent portion, one contestant sang a medley of pop songs – a performance that prompted one of the emcees to say “Wow, we wandered 40 years in the desert for that, thank you.”
Avi Davis tried his hand at stand-up.
“I know I look intimidating, but I only fight Anti-Semitism,” Davis said.
Another contestant, first-year Jeremy Stein, sang his favorite Shabbat song, “Saturday Morning” by Maroon 5.
The talent portion ended with a rousing rendition of Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song,” which the crowd joined in to sing.
Contestants then wrestled with Israel-related trivia questions such as: “What is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname?” (Bibi), “Which Israeli actress played Wonder Woman?” (Gal Gadot) and “How many hours ahead is Israel from Oxford?” (Seven).
As the judges deliberated, the emcees explained that HawkPAC was started “to create a greater Israeli presence at Miami” and that they believe “having even a small relationship with Israel is important.”
Stein was crowned Mr. Nice Jewish Boy with a gold yarmulke and a bouquet of roses.
Corrections: A previous version of this story included misspellings of Avi Dave and “Bibi.”