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Stony Brook Hillel Celebrates 40 Years

by Hillel News |Jul 09, 2007|Comments

Stony Brook Hillel celebrates 40 years.
Stony Brook Hillel celebrates 40 years.

Alumni from Stony Brook University on Long Island remember the days when Jewish programs were held in a faculty dining room and later in a small Hillel House right off campus. In those days, the only professional services for students were those provided by local synagogues.

Forty years later, in 2007, programs are planned in the Gloria and Mark Snyder Hillel Center located in the center of campus where Gloria and Mark Snyder are not just names on a check, but empowered lay leaders. The Snyder Hillel Center has helped raise the level of Jewish awareness on campus since 2001, but the galas they have planned have helped raise some of the funds to sustain Jewish life. Mark Snyder serves as the President of the Stony Brook University Hillel Foundation Board of Directors and Gloria, in addition to serving as Secretary, has served as Gala Chair for the past three years.

This year's annual gala, "A Celebration of 40 Years," commemorated Stony Brook Hillel's history and recognized Rabbi Joseph S. Topek for 25 Years of Service to Stony Brook. Rabbi Topek also served the Hillel Foundation at Virginia Commonwealth University from 1979-1982.

Outgoing Hillel Student President Noah Aronin presented Susan Remick Topek with a surprise Hakarat Hatov Award. Mark Snyder presented the Presidents who preceded him with recognition gifts, and Rabbi Topek recognized all of his predecessors. In addition, the first Stony Brook University Esteemed Faculty Awards were presented to Dr. Miriam Rafailovich and Dr. Lawrence Slobodkin by Dean of the College of Engineering Dr. Yacov Shamash.

Attendees had the opportunity to view a display of materials, artifacts, and photographs from the first 40 years of Hillel's history. Centerpieces generously donated by a board member, featured 25 years worth of pictures of Rabbi Topek and various students.

The event raised over $40,000 and helped reach out to numerous young alumni. Close to 200 faculty and community members attended including numerous esteemed guests such as University President Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, who spoke at the Hillel Summit. Other distinguished University guests included the Vice-Presidents for Economic Development, Research, and Student Affairs; the Dean of the School of Medicine and the CEO of the University Medical Center. Hillel also published a commemorative journal consisting of a brief history, letters, quotes and pictures. In addition there was a silent auction.

Surrounded by their three daughters, two sons-in-law, their grandson and their parents, the Topeks were delighted at the dignity, professionalism and warmth of the evening. The night was "memorable, elegant, fun, and significant for the celebration of Hillel's 40th anniversary, and Rabbi Topek's 25th anniversary! It was an evening we shall look back on with great fondness and appreciation," said Suzan Goldhaber, a member of the planning committee.

"The gala was fantastic! The food, flow of events, and atmosphere made this a memorable event. It was great to see such a mix of people, including family, students, alumni, faculty, community members, board members, Hillel dignitaries, and University officials. The journal itself is an impressive document and keepsake of the event and our heritage. Rabbi Topek's eloquent talk set just the right tone by combining a perspective on the university's past with recollections of student engagement and recognition of the many people who make our Hillel successful. Gloria Snyder's masterful planning and organization skills once again produced a grand event that went like clockwork," said Past Board President Dr. Manuel London.

The event laid the groundwork for 40 more years of quality Jewish programming at Stony Brook University.

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