Hillel center will be new home to growing Jewish community

Catrina Cieslik

Meaningful experiences, memories, history and friendships that have formed over the past 30 years at Hillel will not soon be forgotten while the construction of a new Hillel Jewish Student Center is underway.

Since its days as a student club in the late 1950s, Hillel has been in the lives of students, parents, board members, alumni and friends.

“There is a need for a new Hillel Jewish Student Center because we have a large Jewish population and several students interested in cultural issues,” said Harold Goldsmith, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

The Hillel Jewish Student Center will be a great thing to have, Goldsmith said.

The current Hillel Jewish Student Center is located at 202 N. Lincoln St., and the construction site of the new center is 613 Summit St.

“(The current building) has been around for more than 30 years since 1970, and there is lots of history in the Jewish campus community,” said Mike Levinstein, assistant director of Hillel. “Staff and programming has continuously grown throughout the years.”

The current Hillel Jewish Center, built in Fall 1970, was only meant to be short-term, but since then, countless students have maintained a presence within the center. It is important for the Hillel Jewish Student Center to continue to grow and become a place for even more students.

“We are building a center rather than a synagogue because we absolutely need one on campus for students,” Levinstein said.

While thousands of students participate in Hillel, every student is considered a member. When students are living away from home, it’s nice to walk into a place that feels like home, and students appreciate that, Levinstein said.

There are several events that take place on campus, in the student center, in residence halls and the University Library for students to get involved with Hillel.

Not every activity and event is related to Jewish history and religion, there are also social justice programs for other students to get involved.

Hillel is currently celebrating six weeks of Israel, which is made up of 60 events over the course of six weeks to celebrate the 60th birthday of Israel.

“There are different themes every week that highlight different facets, and there are raffles held for gift baskets,” Levinstein said.

The new Hillel Jewish Student Center is set to open Spring 2009. On May 11, there will be the 11th Annual All-Campus Shabbat to honor the past memories and decades of Jewish life.

Please contact Sarah Dewitt at [email protected] or (330) 678-0397 to share Hillel memories.

Contact religion reporter Catrina Cieslik at [email protected].