Hillel of San Diego Opens $18.7 Million Jewish Center Next to UCSD Campus

After more than 20 years, the highly anticipated Jewish Center opened its doors

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The highly anticipated Jewish Center from the Hillel of San Diego opened its doors Sunday.

The Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center is a 6,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility made up of three buildings clustered around a central courtyard on a 1-acre campus.

“We’re here to connect young people to each other to their Jewish heritage and really to be leaders for the future,” said Karen Parry, Executive Director of the Hillel of San Diego.

The facility features a Kosher kitchen, study rooms, a sanctuary, outdoor activity terraces, a library and an interactive “wisdom wall” – an art display made up of student faces and stories. Leaders of the Hillel of San Diego say the space will be home to more than a dozen Jewish student organizations and offer food and showers for students in need, but most importantly they say this space isn’t just for Jewish students, it’s for everyone to learn about the Jewish faith.

“Antisemitism is on the rise nationally and particularly on college campuses so a building like this actually brings people together, it humanizes communities, connects them, builds coalitions which is all we want,” Parry said.

On Friday, the center opened its doors for its first Shabbat Dinner and 170 students of all faiths participated.  

“That’s the whole point of this place is to bring people together and to feel safe and to know that there’s a lot of love here, especially kids who are coming from other places and don’t have their parents to do their Jewish Shabbats,” said Laura Galinson, the capital campaign chair for the project.

The center will also be a place where students can participate in the Challah for Hungry program where they bake and sell Challah bread on campus and then donate the proceeds to San Diego organizations working to fight hunger.

The center broke ground last year after 20 years of community engagement and several rounds of lawsuits.

A decision by the California Court of Appeal, allowed the project to finally move forward. The ruling ended a long legal battle dating back to 2006. Hillel was awarded exclusive rights to purchase the land from the city to build a Hillel Center in 2000. The project was approved by the city council in 2017.

Following decades of lawsuits, construction started on The Beverly and Joseph Glickman Hillel Center at UC San Diego Sunday. NBC 7's Nicole Gomez reports.
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