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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Brunswick—Rutgers’ Jewish student population of 6,000 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students, the second-largest Jewish student population in the United States, will no longer be forced to conduct its multi-faceted programming in cramped rented quarters after Sunday, April 2, when the new Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House is formally dedicated on the Wilf Family Campus, in the epicenter of the university’s College Avenue redevelopment project. Ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Following the building dedication ceremony, the focus shifts indoors for the evening’s formal programming and annual award presentations. Those being honored include: Cecile and Edward Mossberg of Morris Plains, New Jersey, The Legacy Award; Jonathan Funk ’79 of San Francisco, California, The Rabbi Julius Funk Alumni Award; David Gendelberg, M.D., ’07, of Bergenfield, New Jersey, Young Alumni Award; and Student Rising Stars Arielle Kafker ’18 of Metuchen, Ben Kern ’18 of Mahwah, Elliot Linder ’17 of Teaneck, Jaclyn Platt ’18 of Cherry Hill and Gabrielle Kleyner ’18 of Pacifica, California.

The building has been dedicated in memory of noted philanthropists and Jewish community leaders Eva and Arie Halpern with a $3 million gift from their five children—the Halpern and Stein Families. Eva and Arie were Polish survivors of the Holocaust whose first spouses died at young ages. The two married and merged their two families with Eva bringing her sons, Henry and Ben Stein, and Arie his daughters, Bella, Shelley and Nanette.

According to Executive Director Andrew Getraer, Rutgers Hillel has raised more than 80 percent of its $18 million capital and endowment campaign goal that was initiated with a $2 million gift from Jewish community leaders and international philanthropists Audrey and Zigi Wilf and Jane and Mark Wilf, that enabled initiation of planning, design and land acquisition of a building site on Bishop Place. That parcel was eventually traded for the highly-desirable College Avenue site that is part of the University’s $330 million College Avenue Redevelopment Project.

More than 375 people are expected to attend the day’s festivities, which begin at 3 p.m. with open touring of the building. The dedication ceremony, introduction of dignitaries including U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and University President Robert Barchi, welcoming remarks by Getraer, Hillel Board President Roy Tanzman and Hillel Student Board President Samantha Brandspiegel ’18, and the affixing of a mezuzah on the front doorpost of the building is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Outside activities will be followed by a formal program in the dining room, at which time a Torah that survived the Holocaust will be presented to Hillel’s students by the Mossbergs.

PNC Bank is the Grand Opening Gala Celebration corporate sponsor.

The spectacular, new, 35,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility at 70 College Avenue features an inviting exterior of rich wood and stone with arches and outside dining and activity spaces reminiscent of a mountain lodge. The beautiful interior features a 400-seat kosher dining hall; individual prayer space for Orthodox, Conservative and Reform services; a kosher indoor-outdoor Café (Bistro ’70) serving vegetarian cuisine and pizza; a Center for Israel Engagement; exhibit gallery; social lounges; meeting rooms; administrative offices; an outdoor barbecue garden; a social service center and a spacious outdoor front patio.

The spacious, high-ceilinged welcoming lobby showcases a Legacy Wall dedicated to the memories of Rutgers Hillel’s first executive director Rabbi Julius Funk and his wife Pearl, and features a signature staircase framed by stained glass windows.

The Eva and Arie Halpern Hillel House on the Wilf Family Campus was designed by the architectural firms of Kann Partners of Baltimore and Guzzo & Guzzo Architects of Lyndhurst. Idan Levin of Construction Management Resources, LLC, provided owner representation and project management.

Rutgers Hillel is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federations of Greater MetroWest, Heart of New Jersey, Northern New Jersey, Princeton-Mercer-Bucks, Somerset Hunterdon Warren, Southern New Jersey and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.