The largest Hillel in the country? That’s exactly what’s in the plans for Maryland Hillel at College Park in order to meet the needs of its growing student community.
In spring 2018, Maryland Hillel, an agency of The Associated, expects to break ground on a new state-of-the-art, 40,000+ square foot facility. With its proposed leadership suite, social justice center, food court including spaces for meat and dairy meals and additional spiritual space, the building will provide much-needed space for one of the most active Jewish student population in the country.
“The new building will be the perfect size for the student population we serve, with mores spaces for meeting, celebrating and eating,” says Richard Manekin, chair of the board of Maryland Hillel. “And it’s in the right location in the center of the ‘new’ College Park, currently being redeveloped.”
The new facility, estimated to be open in two to three years, will be located in downtown College Park, behind Frat Row on Yale Street. This prime location, in the epicenter of off-campus activity and near the restaurants, shops and new Center for Innovation, is far more conducive to engaging students not typically connected to Hillel.
It is also, says Ari Israel, executive director of Maryland Hillel, in an ideal location to provide meeting and social space for fraternities and sororities, such as AEPhi, AEPi and ZBT, which are located adjacent to the proposed building.
The current 17,000 square foot Ben and Esther Rosenbloom Center for Jewish Life on Campus, is on Mowatt Lane. The Rosenbloom family has again committed to making a lead gift to the new premises, recognizing the strategic importance Maryland Hillel plays.
Funding for building construction will come from a capital campaign being launched by the organization and chaired by Robb Cohen in Baltimore and Marc Solomon in Bethesda. The Associated is committed to participating in raising $6 million of the $17 million estimated building cost. The capital campaign strives to raise $25 million, ensuring that Maryland Hillel has an endowment to sustain its new infrastructure.
Maryland Hillel has also entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland. This agreement ensures that gifts to the capital campaign receive credit at the University of Maryland. It also affords Maryland Hillel access to the University’s development resources.
“The Associated has been a true partner,” Ari Israel. “Since the beginning, they have been involved with the logistics, planning, operations and architect selection. Linda [A.] Hurwitz [Associated Chair of the Board] has been a wonderful community partner and a mentor to me.”
Israel adds that this new building is critical to the future of Maryland Hillel and its ability to continue to grow and serve the approximately 3,000 Jewish students who attended at least one Hillel event last year.
Pointing to the food services for example, he says that right now, “our kitchen was built to serve 75 people a day, but we are serving over 450 meals a day. And for larger Friday nights Shabbat dinners, we can serve well over 650 people.”
Since Israel first arrived at Maryland Hillel in 2003, he’s seen a dramatic increase in the number of programs and services offered by and students engaged in the organization. Back then, he says, there was only one Israel group and two social justice groups – now there are eight and 10 respectively. And today, Maryland Hillel takes seven Birthright buses to Israel, where 10 years ago they only had one.
With approximately 2,000 Jewish students attending the University of Maryland from the Baltimore/Washington area, Manekin talks about how important Maryland Hillel is to our community’s future.
“Maryland Hillel helps them stay involved Jewishly, inspiring our Jewish leaders of tomorrow.”