Hillel UCSD, a branch of Hillel of San Diego, announced that they received a $5 million donation towards the creation of their proposed Jewish community center last week. The donation came from Joseph Glickman, a local leader of the Jewish community and an avid supporter of Hillel of San Diego. The center, named the Beverly & Joseph Glickman Hillel Center, would be situated at the intersection of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road if approved by San Diego’s City Council.
According to the Hillel UCSD website, the organization currently has no permanent location to host its programs. In 2000, the organization purchased property across the street from UCSD with the intention of building a community center.
Director of Hillel UCSD Rabbi David Singer spoke with the UCSD Guardian about the proposed student center and how it will serve as “the convening space for Jewish life on campus.”
“[The property will serve as] the home for Hillel which will finally give us, after 15 years of struggle, a space from which to base our offices, to support students, and to provide a community space for religious gatherings and programs,” Singer said.
Singer stated that the absence of a Jewish Community Center at UCSD is uncommon among universities. For instance, both San Diego State University and California State University, San Marcos have their own Hillel Centers on campus.
“It’s a real shame, a real tragedy that UC San Diego does not [currently] have a Hillel building,” Singer said. “It makes UC San Diego unique among any other major public university that I can think of off the top of my head.”
Lawsuits and environmental concerns have delayed the start of construction. According to Singer, the construction plans for the Hillel Center have been redesigned in order to address these complaints and to ensure that the center will fit in with the rest of the neighborhood.
“There’s been a delicate balance to build the proper facility within the makeup of the neighborhood,” Singer said. “[UC San Diego Hillel] is purporting to build a center that not only fits within the single family nature of this neighborhood, but also provides us a space in which to operate a religious center that supports the needs of Jewish and all students.”
According to the Hillel UCSD website, the facility will be comprised of three structures covering 6,479 square feet of space on the property. The center will include a chapel, a library, a student center, a small park that is open to the public and parking spaces for cars and bicycles. In addition, 30 to 50 percent of its energy consumption will be provided by solar power.
Singer added that the Glickman center would not impede access to other buildings in the neighborhood.
Sixth College junior Samuel Letchman told the Guardian that he’s confident the proposed center would improve the organization’s presence on campus.
“I have been to a few Hillel things every year and they have always done a great job with what they have on campus,” Letchman told the Guardian. “With the new building should come even better events. I’m very excited to see what they will be able to do in a new building.”
Singer hopes that the Glickman Center, if approved, will provide opportunities, resources and leadership opportunities to Jewish students.
“[UC San Diego Hillel] is deeply invested in inspiring students to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel. We see [the Glickman Center] as the epicenter of Jewish life on campus, where we can build community and help students grow as leaders. It [will be] the center for classes, for one on one mentorship [and] for religious and cultural gatherings.”