Posted November 23, 2009

New Rosen Hillel Center formally opens doors

  • Courtesy Hillel of Greater Philadelphia The Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center for Jewish Life, operated by Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, at W. Norris and N. 15th Streets.

The new, $8-million Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center for Jewish Life — operated by Hillel of Greater Philadelphia — officially opened its doors at a ceremonial dedication on Wednesday evening, Nov. 11, heralding what the Jewish Exponent has called a Jewish "renaissance" at the university.
More than 350 students, faculty, staff, alumni, community members and community leaders from throughout the Mid-Atlantic joined the celebration, including Temple President Ann Weaver Hart; United States Sen. Arlen Specter; Leonard Barrack, Temple trustee and president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Howard E. Goldberg, chair of Hillel at Temple University's Board of Overseers; and the building's namesake, Temple emeritus trustee Edward H. Rosen.

The ceremony was kicked off with the ritual affixing of a mezuzah — a small case containing a prayer — in the doorframe of the Rosen Hillel Center's entrance, followed by the blowing of a shofar, a ceremonial horn.

The 10,500-square-foot structure, located just west of Temple's Main Campus at W. Norris and N. 15th streets, boasts a kosher café; a rooftop garden overlooking Center City Philadelphia; an informal Judaic Reading Room that also provides worship space for religious services; an auditorium that also serves as a dining room for Sabbath and holiday meals; a living room with a large-screen television; and state-of-the-art technology, including wireless internet access. Starting in Spring 2010, the café also will offer daily kosher meals that are part of Temple meal plans.

"This is a home away from home for students — a meeting place, a hang-out place, an eating place, a study place and a place to explore Judaism," said Phil Nordlinger, director of Hillel at Temple.

Nordlinger stressed that the Center is open to all students. "We know that Jewish students have friends of all faiths," he said, noting that the Rosen Hillel Center already has hosted interfaith gatherings ranging from serious topical discussions to football-watching parties. "We want our Jewish students and their friends to feel comfortable in this space."

The opening of the Center is part of a surge of new opportunities for Jewish life and scholarship this fall, a semester that already has been marked by the arrival of the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection to Temple University Libraries and a new director for Temple's Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, Professor Lila Corwin Berman.