More than 50 community leaders and philanthropists joined Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach professionals and students last week for a behind-the-scenes "hard hat" reception at the construction site of the new Levine-Weinberger Jewish Life Center (JLC) at Florida Atlantic University. Supporters were welcomed by FAU President Frank T. Brogan and got a sneak peek of the new facility, which is scheduled to open in August.
"It is a dream come true," says Abby Levine, the capital campaign chair and one of the donors for whom the JLC is named, along with his wife Mildred. "I see the excitement on the students' faces and can only imagine the possibilities for growth that Hillel will have in their new home."
After more than five years of planning and a campaign that has already raised close to $1 million, the Levine-Weinberger Jewish Life Center is rising quickly, with the walls, ceiling and foundation all in place. It will be the first permanent home for Hillel and more than 1,500 Jewish students at FAU, including administrative and student offices, a kosher coffee shop, large multi-purpose room and meeting rooms. During the tour, signs were placed throughout the center to show where specific programmatic and administrative areas will eventually be housed.
"There is something that makes you feel very proud to be a Jewish student on campus when you pass the construction fence and see a sign that says 'Future Home of the Jewish Life Center,'" said Jackie Bergman, a freshman at FAU. "It says something about the importance of Jewish students and Hillel that we will have a gorgeous building that thousands of students will walk past each day."
"This will be the start of a fantastic new chapter in Heller's history at FAU," said Darin Diner, executive director of Hillel of Broward and Palm Beach. "I have no doubt that our student leadership will blossom and our programming will take a giant leap forward with the opening of this facility."
All guests, including Boca Raton Mayor Steve Abrams, were given special hard hats emblazoned with a picture of the new center, and donors were recognized for their work in the initial phase of the capital campaign. For many, the tour solidified their dedication to the project and Jewish campus life in South Florida.
"Working with Hillel and Jewish students is the most important thing we can do to ensure a strong Jewish future," said Saul Weinberger, who, along with his wife, Ruth, co-chaired the capital campaign effort with the Levines. "The students need a place to call home, and this will be a gathering place for all Jewish students to come together and enrich their Jewish lives."