New Hillel student center opens today

Stephanie Mathias

Two-week celebration of $3.2M facility kicks off with barbecue open to all

Boxes left to be emptied sit in the Hillel center library yesterday afternoon. The Hillel Center, which serves as a Jewish community center for students, opens today. Students, however, do not need to be Jewish to come by, Jon Stewart, an engagement assoc

Credit: DKS Editors

Hillel will celebrate the grand opening of the $ 3.2 million Jewish Student Center by hosting a two-week celebration starting today.

Hillel will have a Housewarming Barbecue from 5:30-8 p.m. today at their new building located at 613 Summit St.

The barbecue will consist mostly of eating and socializing, and there will also be a photo scavenger hunt and games.

“It will be great to be on the summit of Summit Street,” said Mike Levinstein, assistant director of Hillel. “This way the building is more visible and gives Hillel a higher profile.”

The building process was started 10 years ago by a group of staff, students, donors and alumni. The groundbreaking was in September 2007, and the construction by Cavanaugh Building was finished in November 2008 as planned.

Levinstein said that there will be a large difference in how convenient the new building is for students.

Hillel’s former home for 35 years was in a three-story house on N. Lincoln Street. Even though the house was three stories, it was small, with only four offices for the staff. The new student center is three stories which includes 11 offices for staff and a student office as well.

The student center will be open to everyone, and Hillel is working on plans for a cafe for that very reason. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the building, and there are projectors for presentations in the large rooms.

Levinstein said that they want to hold classes in their building eventually.

There is also a new feature which students can plug their iPod into the wall and play it through the speakers in the lounge area and a laundry room on the bottom floor that will be open to all students at a small cost.

The only kosher community kitchen in Portage County is on the bottom floor of the new Jewish Student Center. There is also a large dining area that will be used for the weekly Shabbat dinners.

“The new student center will be a home away from home,” Levinstein said. “There are 1200 Jewish students on campus, and we want them all to feel at home here.”

There is also symbolism throughout the new building pertaining to the Hebrew religion. There is a large multipurpose room which will be used for Alpha Epsilon Pi’s weekly meetings and also as the student center’s chapel. Inside will be 10 stained glass windows that stand for each of the Ten Commandments.

The new Jewish Student Center was built on land that the state of Ohio owns. It is funded by alumni, the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and an anonymous donor, who the building will be named after eventually.

Contact religion reporter Stephanie Mathias at [email protected].