After several years in the works, the new Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center for Jewish Life at Temple University made its debut with a Nov. 11 dedication ceremony that drew an estimated 300 people. The event included greetings and remarks from a number of Temple and Hillel leaders, representatives of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, Temple students and even U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
The gathering took place in the building's third floor ballroom, but because of the crowds, video footage was channeled to TV screens on the first and second floors.
Ed Rosen, the building's namesake, said that he looked forward to the site serving as a place for interreligious dialogue, and as a hub for social, communal and academic pursuits. But even if those activities happen outside the building, that's ok by him, he said, just so long as they occur.
Added Rosen: "We certainly hope that the building will be a useful focus; but today, students have their own agenda. You can't just say, 'Go to Hillel,' and that's where it will all happen. You have to reach out."
This sentiment was echoed by Temple Hillel student president Matan Silberstein, who noted that the building is just a building if the students don't make it their own.
"It's on the students now," said Silberstein. "We really need to make it what it can and should be."
Hillel hosts weekly Shabbat dinners and services that attract between 70 and 100 students each week. In-house kosher dining is expected to debut at Hillel's new address sometime early next semester, said Rabbi Howard Alpert, executive director of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia.
For now, even without kosher dining, "what's exciting is that Jewish students will be making use of this facility -- and are already using it -- to create a very active and vibrant Jewish life at Temple University. And that's going to attract even more Jewish students," said Alpert.