A Continent Apart, Two New Hillels Open
October 3, 2006Comments (0)
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Students enjoying the new space at the University of Denver Hillel.
Two Hillel facilities, a continent apart, debuted last week with a common goal: provide a welcoming space for students.
After nearly three years of careful planning and strategic fundraising, the Hillel at the University of Denver realized its dream of opening a new center. In early September the Merage and Allon Hillel Center opened in time for the new academic year.
“Our new space is eight times larger than our old. We visited a lot of other Hillels to determine what students wanted in a space,” says Pat Blumenthal, executive director of the Hillels of Colorado. “And mostly the students told us, it had to be welcoming.”
The new Hillel is a block from a student dormitory and in a better location than the old center, says Blumenthal.
It houses a chapel, library, study areas, game room and a social hall with a moveable wall. In addition, there are computers for student use and the building is set up for wireless Internet access.
But perhaps the best feature of the new Hillel is its large, well-stocked kosher kitchen.
“I’m a food lover!” says University of Denver sophomore and Hillel co-vice president, Rachel Weinhouse. “Hillel is very generous with providing the ingredients and the new Hillel has a full kitchen which is really being used.”
Weinhouse, with six other students, made Rosh Hashanah dinner for over 40 students.
“We’ve noticed a change in who is coming to our programs, but our goal is not to just have the building be for programs,” says Blumenthal. “The space is still young and we’re learning how best to use it.”
Across the continent in Quebec, Canada, the Hillel of Montreal re-opened its Jack Reitman Hillel House after thoroughly renovating the nearly 100-year-old building.
The Hillel services students from multiple campuses in Montreal, but is closest to McGill University and Concordia University.
Renovations included a new and enlarged student office, wider social areas, renovated washrooms, a redesigned and modernized kitchen and chapel. The Hillel also renovated the rooms used for boarding nine students.
“The building is really beautiful,” says Gisele Rucker, executive director of the Hillel of Montreal. “The renovations allow us to offer some fantastic programming by our Jewish student council. What’s great is they can now use the space for all the planning as well as the activities.”
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