By Douglas J. Guth
Senior Staff Reporter, Cleveland Jewish News
Published: Friday, February 5, 2010 11:29 AM EST
The common room of the Cohn Jewish Student Center, home of Hillel at Kent State University, is a beehive of activity Jan. 22, the first Shabbat of the new year. About 60 students, some in jeans and sweatshirts, some in sports jackets or blouses, and some sporting kipot, talk and laugh boisterously with their friends. But all become respectfully quiet when it's time to light the Shabbat candles.
Busy scenes like this have become the norm at Kent Hillel since the Jewish student organization opened its $3.2 million on-campus facility last February. The sprawling, white 11,000 square-foot residential-style facility features WiFi-friendly student recreation areas, large meeting rooms for community gatherings, a laundromat, and the only commercial-sized kosher kitchen in Portage County.
Both students and HIllel officials maintain that while success has come with its own set of challenges, Jewish life at Kent has taken a noticeable turn for the better with a state-of-the-art home as its centerpiece.