A week full of welcome activities, such as Matzo Ball Monday and Turkey Tuesday, opened the long-awaited Hillel building on Oct. 1.
The debate as to how long students have been waiting for a building on campus is long standing. One person said they had been waiting for 40 years while others have said 13. What is known is that the lease for the land that Hillel now sits on was signed in 1987. Previously, Hillel was located in an apartment just north of campus.
Hillel Director Nicky Spivak said the building has 3,600 square feet of space and will be used by students for religious observances, dancing and other events.
The new building contains a library/conference room, a student office, a student lounge and a kitchenette. The main room will be left open so it can be rearranged for guest speakers. Furniture for the building is expected to arrive within the next three weeks.
Spivak said the first week’s welcome events were a huge success and he said it felt like a real Hillel with all the new faces.
“It gives students a place they can be proud of,” Spivak said. “I’m hopeful that it will become a destination.”
Sophomore and vice president of Hillel, Orly Genoune, said the new building was a long time in the making and a pleasure to have.
“We have a presence on campus now and more Jewish diversity,” Genoune said. “Now that we have the building, we won’t have to rent out a room in the Marshall Center.”
Jewish Campus Service Corps Fellow Leanne Milner recruits students on campus and in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center to join Hillel. If a student can’t make it to the building, she brings the activities to them. Milner said the new building will create visibility on campus. “The new building is a very positive step for this Jewish community,” Milner said.
Hillel is not a membership organization and it is open to everyone. There are approximately 2,000 Jewish students at USF. Hillel has 300-400 students on its e-mailing list, and it attracts 100-125 of those students every few weeks at events.
Hillel offers dinner and services, a women’s group and tzedek (community service). They hold a weekly Shabbat in the Marshall Center and at the new building, in addition to bagel brunches on Sundays.
This year, the International Hillel recognized USF’s chapter as a tzedek Hillel. Tzedeck refers to community service activities. The international group realized that USF students were getting a lot out of working on service projects, and they decided to make that the focus of USF’s Hillel community service.