(Geneva, NY) Jewish students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) have a new home on campus. Literally. Hillel Program Professional Lorinda Weinstock spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Abbe Center on Saturday, October 20. The Abbe Center, named for alumnus donor Richard K. Abbe (’92) and his wife Merav, serves as both a meeting place and a co-ed student dormitory for Jewish students and non-Jewish students interested in Jewish culture.
Richard K. Abbe cuts ribbon at new Abbe Center.
“Prior to this year, the ‘Jewish Culture House’ housed five students, had a small kitchen and was outdated,” explains Weinstock. “The Abbes generosity has allowed us to acquire, renovate and maintain a newer building with a kosher kitchen which accomodates nine students.”
Evan Brown, Hillel president and House manager, is one of the students now living at the Abbe Center. At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Brown spoke about spiritual paths needing physical space. For Brown and his Jewish classmates, the Abbe Center is providing just that. The new facility provides space for weekly Shabbat gatherings and “Java in the Hut” during Sukkot. Most recently, Hillel used the house to host an oneg celebration for congregants at Temple Beth-El which is directly across the street.
Richard K. Abbe with wife Merav.
The Abbe Center, located at 764 South Main Street, boasts seven bedrooms (five singles and two doubles). Three of those rooms offer views of Seneca Lake.
“Applications to live in the house immediately increased when we announced plans to renovate in the Spring,” says Weinstock.
Student residents were hand-selected through Hillel, which sponsors the house, but being Jewish was not a requirement. “We only ask that students living there respect Jewish culture and the laws of kashrut,” explains Weinstock. Eight of the nine students housed in the Abbe Center this semester are Jewish.
Outside, a plaque indicates that the house has been dedicated to those HWS alumni killed on September 11. Cantor-Fitzgerald employee Andy Golkin was a fraternity brother of Richard K. Abbe.
Photos by: Kevin Colton