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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Grand opening of URI Hillel's new home, March 7

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 12, 2010 -- For the first time since it was founded at the University of Rhode Island in 1948, Hillel, the Jewish student center at URI, will have a permanent home upon which to affix a Mezuzah (the small case that contains a scroll with words from the Torah) and welcome new generations of students.

The grand opening of the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center will be held on Sunday, March 7 from 2-4 p.m. at 6 Fraternity Circle, Kingston, RI. University of Rhode Island President David M. Dooley and Hillel International President Wayne L. Firestone, will be present for the festivities. A short ceremony including the placing of the mezuzah on the main doorway will take place at 2:30 p.m. Refreshments and music will follow.

The new center was built thanks to the vision and initial generosity of the Norman and Rosalie Fain Family Foundation and support from hundreds of other alumni, students, friends and board members. URI Hillel has completed phase one of its $2.2 million Capital Campaign. $1.2 million has gone into the design and construction of the Norman M. Fain Hillel Center. An additional $1 million has been pledged and funds will continue to be raised for the permanent endowment to support building operations and maintenance.

Hillel creates a warm and welcoming environment where students from all backgrounds can explore and celebrate Judaism. While primarily focused on enriching Jewish students’ experiences, Hillel also serves the diverse campus population by providing cultural, social and educational opportunities for the entire campus community to gain a deeper appreciation of and respect for Jewish life.

Located in the renovated and re-designed former Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house in the heart of the University's freshman residential area, the building designed by Ed Wojcik Architects, LTD and built by Bowerman Associates features: multi-purpose rooms and a lounge to provide space for programs, meetings, social events and study; a social hall equipped with audio visual equipment for films, lectures, presentations, and musical events; a sanctuary space adorned with two stained glass windows restored from the former Jewish Home for the Aged and an eternal light fashioned by renowned glass artist Steven Weinberg; a kitchen and dining space for festive Shabbat and holiday dinners, Passover Seders, other meals and community/campus events.

“It’s really exciting to be in the new Hillel building,” URI Hillel’s Student Board President, Betsy Cohen, said. Cohen, a sophomore majoring in marine biology and journalism, participated in last year’s Hillel Alternative Break trip to rebuild New Orleans, and is involved in numerous other Hillel and campus-related activities. “I’m thrilled that our Hillel finally has a home on campus where students can crowd around the kitchen on Friday afternoons to cook Shabbat dinner, meet friends, study or relax.”