Jewish students at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee will not have to walk far to connect with the local Jewish community.
The Milwaukee Jewish Federation broke ground last week on the new Joseph and Vera Zilber Building, an eco-friendly facility which will serve as the local Hillel Foundation's headquarters and house the Hillel Student Center.
Groundbreaking of Zilber Building at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
The new building, designed by La Dallman Associates and built by Fred Stier Construction, will be located on UWM's campus, behind the Zelazo Center on Kenwood Boulevard.
The Zilbers, longtime supporters of Milwaukee's Jewish community, donated $2 million for the project which is part of a $50 million initiative to help the Milwaukee Jewish Federation reach its “New Potential.”
“We applaud the vision and leadership of Joseph Zilber,” said John Mann, President of Hillel Foundation Milwaukee. “This new building will enable hundreds of future students to spend their college years surrounded by Jewish cultural and religious support,” Mann said.
At the groundbreaking ceremony on May 28, Zilber, an alumnus of nearby Marquette University, spoke about how he wished there had been a campus Hillel when during his college years.
Milwaukee has had an active Hillel for more than 30 years. The Hillel Foundation Milwaukee is a constituent agency of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation which serves students at UWM, Marquette University, Milwaukee School of Engineering and other area colleges. The new building will house the Hillel Foundation which has outgrown its current space on N. Stowell Avenue.
Heidi Rattner, executive director of the Hillel Foundation Milwaukee, spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony.
"The new Hillel building will enable us to dramatically enhance our level of service to students, to the university and to the larger community," she said. "During their college years, many students demonstrate a desire to perform community service - tikkun olam - as we call it. The new facility will help nurture their desire to make the world a better place."
UWM Hillel Student President John Amrani echoed Rattner's comments saying that Hillel "is very important to me" and "greatly enriches the lives of our students."
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderman Nic Kovac and UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago attended the groundbreaking ceremony along with students, alumni, faculty and administrators.