Hillel welcomes students to its renovated space

Victoria Russell

Chief Copy Editor

As students returned to Goucher College this fall, many noticed the beautiful new Hillel space located across from Stimson Dining Hall. The renovations were a few years in the making, but Hillel is very happy with how the space turned out. “It has been a process of two or three years,” says Rabbi Josh Snyder, Goucher Hillel Executive Director. “To be more specific, this particular renovation effort got started last summer in 2013. One particular donor helped with the Chai Campaign.” Chai directly translates to 18 in Hebrew; the number of years the Goucher Hillel has been around. The students agree that it was time for a change. “Hillel has evolved over the past few years and [this new space] seems like this is a testament to this transition,” says senior class representative Eli Kaufman.

Private donations from four donors helped to transform this space, including Frona Brown, class of 1964, “who made a transformative gift,” says Snyder. The lounge will be named and dedicated to Esther Ann Brown, her daughter. There were also three other alumnae/i who made this possible: Beth Goldsmith, class of 1972, Fern Karesh Hurst, class of 1968, and Earle and Joanne Linder, parents of the class of 2013.

The Hillel hired interior designers Tammy Heyman and Suzanne Levin-Lapides to help design the space. However, the Hillel wanted to make sure the students had input into the design and the elements of the new space. “We had a meeting for students to design furniture, colors, tables, etc. and to vote on it all,” says Snyder. Hillel also received a major upgrade in terms of technology. Students decided that they wanted a Smart TV, as well as a Deer Park water cooler, and a glass board, which will be installed soon, to display events.

Now that the new space is almost complete, the Hillel is going to be hosting a number of open house events. Student leaders are going to set up a welcome desk during lunch hours, inviting students into the space, as well as prospective families.

“Hillel wants to provide a new place for the Goucher community to come together for intercultural and inter religious community,” Snyder says. This semester, the Hillel is going to be hosting movie nights on Mondays and game nights on Wednesdays. During the second Tuesday of the month, the Hillel will also be sponsoring Hillel Happy Hour with different snacks and activities for students. Kaufman also stresses that anyone is welcome in the Hillel space. “You don’t have to be Jewish to participate in Hillel events or to enter and enjoy the space. Hillel has social justice programming. Hillel has educational programming. Hillel has social programming. There is so much for everyone to do.“ The space will also be available for other clubs on campus to reserve and use.

This spring, the Hillel is hoping to hold a formal dedication in the new space once all the work has been completed. The Hillel is also still collecting donations from alumnae/i. They are doing a “Sponsor a Chair” program, where young alumnae/i can help to sponsor a chair in the new space for a donation.

In addition to the new space, the Hillel has also undergone staffing changes. Karin Hassin is the full time Israel coordinator, connecting students to Israel. Rachel Plotkin is the new Jewish student life coordinator, working with the different student boards and leadership committees.

For a student who may know nothing about the Hillel, Snyder says, “Come visit. If you’re curious, if you’ve never walked in before, come do your homework.”


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