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Hillel To Open Massive Downtown Community Center

Some of us are just too cool for the HUB.

Penn State HIllel, the largest student org of its kind in the country, has plans to open an enormous downtown office by 2017 at the corner of Beaver Ave and Garner St, catty corner from the so-called Dorito Church. Students walking by the property, formerly a bank, have probably noticed the large tarps with the working design of the glassy new home for the Jewish student group.

“While the staff and students at Penn State Hillel already do an exceptional job of engaging over half of the Jewish students on campus through Jewish life programming, leadership development opportunities, peer-to-peer engagement, and immersive experiences, this building will open the doors to a greater community we do not regularly see,” said Hillel Community Engagement Associate Hannah Giterman. “The state-of-the-art facility will serve as a focal point of Jewish life throughout campus and as a hub of Jewish identity and expression.”

The 26,000-square foot building and its operational endowment is expected to cost approximately $15 million, with less than half already secured through private donations. The group anticipates fundraising the rest to meet its goal and keep the project on schedule.

“It is critical that Penn State Hillel offers students a joyous, celebratory Jewish experience while they are on campus — an experience imbued with Jewish values they will carry with them once they graduate and move into adulthood,” Giterman said. “Penn State Hillel is at the heart of Jewish life on campus. Upon completion of the campaign, Penn State Hillel will boast an exceptional facility and improved financial resources, resulting in a vastly enhanced and expanded program that will ensure Penn State remains one of the premiere centers of Jewish student life in the country.”

The new digs will certainly be a bit different from Hillel’s current office in the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center. While the focus of the building will be to support Hillel’s members and the estimated 5,000 Jewish students on campus, it will be open to the community as well. Study areas, State College’s first Kosher deli, a game room, and a rooftop garden are all in the works for the org’s new home.

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