Sunday, May 4, 10:03 p.m.
GW Hillel raised half a million dollars in a campaign to renovate its aging building, officials said at the Jewish organization’s 20th anniversary Wednesday.
Students, alumni and community members attended the event to raise awareness about necessary changes to the Jewish student center at 23rd and H streets.
“The building was built in 1986 and although we are happy to have our own place in the center of campus, we are lagging behind in advancements that other buildings such as the Marvin Center have made,” said Steve Shifrin, GW Hillel program director.
Eighty-five percent of Hillel’s annual budget comes from fundraising. It is very dependent on community support to reach Jewish students, which make up about 30 percent of the University’s undergraduate population.
“Tonight is to show how important the building, community and organization as a whole is to the campus and the enrichment of student life,” said sophomore Brenda Tobin. “It is a way to show how the support has helped and to hopefully continue and increase awareness and involvement for Hillel.”
Freshman Marc Friends, a member of the First Year Student at Hillel Committee, emphasized how vital the organization has been to his experience on campus.
“I was looking for a Jewish community that was warm and welcoming and I found that here,” Friends said. “It is to show how the support we receive helps us to provide for the students and by the students giving tours and showing what happens here, it helps the community see what Hillel actually does for them.”
Hillel holds many social programming events including free Arabic and conversational Hebrew lessons as well as holiday and religious services and meals.
“(Hillel) has always been there to support students, but needs change,” said Rob Fishman, executive director of GW Hillel. “Hillel hopes Wednesday’s celebration will be a first step to moving the organization forward.”
He added, “Tonight is a way to really push to get our name out there and have supporters and the community members realize that Hillel is here for them.”