A new era in Jewish campus life at Boston University began last week when BU students, Hillel professionals, supporters and friends dedicated the new $16 million Florence and Chafetz Hillel House. BU Hillel opened its doors on May 12 at a grand-opening dedication and reception hosted by the BU Hillel Boston Board, the BU Hillel Student Board and the BU Hillel National Advisory Board.
The daylong celebration included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, speeches by students, alumni and the BU administration, a Torah procession from the School of Law Auditorium to the new Hillel building, a mezuzah hanging and reception featuring BU Hillel's a cappella group, Kol Echad. The first exhibit in the building's new Rubin-Frankel Gallery featured an series of photographs of Jews all over the world by renowned photojournalist Zion Ozeri titled "A Nation's Diversity: A Jewish Family Album."
"This was the first time we've been able to have a function of this size in our own building," said Emily Fishbein, the coordinator of marketing and programming at BU Hillel. "Everyone was really happy with how it all turned out."
BU alumnus Irwin Chafetz and a family representative of Leonard Florence, the naming patrons of the new building, were in attendance, along with BU Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Joseph Polak, BU President Ad Interim Aram Chobanian, BU Presidents Emeriti John Silber and Jon Westling, as well as Oscar Wasserman, the chairman of the BU Hillel Board of Directors.
The Florence and Chafetz Hillel House has separate chapels for Conservative, Orthodox and Reform worship, expanded kitchens, dining and meeting facilities, wireless Internet access, a coffee bar open to the public, and a gallery for exhibits. Designed by Steffian Bradley Architects, Inc., the 33,000-square-foot, four-story structure with exteriors of granite, limestone, brick and copper blends in with the Back Bay neighborhood and is twice the size of the former structure.
The building is already proving popular among students, especially those looking for a place to study for final exams. Fishbein is pleased to see Jewish students bringing their classmates to Hillel to hold study groups.
"It's nice to see our Jewish students bringing in other students and wanting to share it with them," she said.