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College celebrates opening of new Zachs Hillel House
A cold day gave way to a warm welcome as the doors were officially opened to Connecticut College’s new Zachs Hillel House during a campus ceremony yesterday. The College’s first Hillel House will serve as the center for Jewish student life and related intercultural programming at the College.
“The opening of the Zachs Hillel House is another milestone for the College and a visible sign of our commitment to a diverse and inclusive community on this campus,” said President Katherine Bergeron during the event.
The 6,700-square-foot building is located on the north end of campus and includes a conference room, library, study space, a kosher kitchen and a large recreational area. The new facility provides space for weekly Shabbat services and religious observances, lectures, study sessions and meals like the popular Bagel Brunches.
The new Hillel House was made possible by a $1 million gift from Henry Zachs, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has funded Hillel Houses at Trinity College and the University of Connecticut, and his family. A resident of Farmington, Conn., Zachs has served as president of the Greater Hartford Jewish Foundation and was presented the Harold Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education Lay Leader Award in 2009 by the Hebrew High School of New England.
“My family and I are pleased to support the construction of a space that will promote intellectual and social growth for the entire Connecticut College community,” Zachs said. “Hillel has become a vibrant program at Connecticut College and we hope that a dedicated facility will ensure its growth into the future.”
Other speakers at the ceremony included Dean of the College Carolyn Denard; Jerry Fischer, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Eastern Connecticut; and seniors Spencer Francus and Adam Rosenberg, co-presidents of Connecticut College Hillel. The ceremony culminated with a traditional Hebrew blessing by Rabbi Aaron Rosenberg, the College’s Jewish chaplain, and the traditional placement of the mezuzah — an encased piece of parchment inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah — on the doorframe of the building entrance.
The Zachs Hillel House will initially be open to all members of the College community Monday-Friday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m., with expanded weekend and evening hours to be announced soon. The College is currently in the process of finding a new Hillel director, who will oversee the daily programs and events at the Zachs Hillel House.
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