June 23, 2018 | ° F

Rutgers Hillel holds grand opening gala

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Rutgers first broke ground on the new Hillel building in November of 2014. Last Sunday, the newly finished building held a grand opening gala for the community, which was attended by University President Robert L. Barchi.

This past Sunday, Rutgers Hillel, located on the College Avenue campus, held their grand opening gala celebration.

Samantha Brandspiegel, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and president of the Rutgers Hillel, was one of the students who spoke at the gala. 

“Rutgers Hillel is home to the largest undergraduate student body in America. We have always had small buildings and now we have this magnificent structure that we can call home and it gives us a place in the Rutgers and Jewish community," Brandspiegel said. 

The gala began with a cocktail hour where people became acquainted with and toured the building.

Brandspiegel said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), University President Robert L. Barchi and president and CEO of Rutgers Hillel International were in attendance. 

The cocktail hour continued while many guests were talking to current students about the importance of the new building.

After the cocktail hour, Rutgers Hillel started with the dedications, including the Mezuzah hanging. A Mezuzah is a piece of parchment with a Jewish prayer written on it that is placed on the right side of a door post to protect the house or building. The dedication was performed by Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg. 

“The turnout of the event was incredible. It was the most successful event ever. People came from the community, alumni, friends of Rutgers Hillel and the Chief Cantor of the Israeli Defense Force, Shai Abrahamson,” Brandspeigel said. “It was amazing and inspiring to see people come from all over to celebrate with Rutgers Hillel."

As a student volunteer, School of Arts and Sciences junior Jenna Kershenbaum said they were tasked with greeting and mingling with the guests, giving them tours of the building and explaining how the building will benefit students. 

“Hillel, for me, means that I have a building that I can come and either study, eat or take a nap and feel comfortable doing it. It doesn’t have a one set agenda,” she said. “Because of this feeling, I love coming to Rutgers Hillel for all of the various events the offer on a daily basis.”

Kershenbaum said this Friday will be the first Shabbat dinner in the new Hillel building. They are expecting a large turnout and all are welcome. 

“Hillel is a home away from home for most Jewish students. They have the ability to express their Judaism in what every way they feel comfortable,” Margaret Klein, a School of Arts and Science junior said. “Rutgers Hillel is a place Jewish students can come and feel a part of a community while on campus.”

Klein said it is very important for Jewish students in Rutgers to have a new Hillel building, so that they have the ability to express their Judaism in whatever way they feel comfortable.

“The reception of this new building has been incredibly positive. Students are now taking advantage of all this new Rutgers Hillel building has to offer,” she said. “This is a huge change from the old Hillel house which was a small college house, and now we have this massive structure in its place. For all of the things Rutgers Hillel was able to accomplish with just its small house, I can only imagine what is going to come out of the brand new Rutgers Hillel building."

Baruch Silberstein is a junior in the School of Arts and Sciences. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. 

Baruch Silberstein

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