This winter, members of Hillel UGA, a Jewish student organization, are celebrating both the holidays and the construction of a brand new building.

Plans for the new building have been in the works for about six years, but construction has ramped up in the past few months. The bones of the building are emerging on Baxter Street in Athens, with the grand opening set for the fall semester next year.

 Why It’s Newsworthy: Hillel UGA members are excited to move into their new building. The organization needs the new space to serve the growing Jewish community at UGA. 

At three times the size of their current building on Milledge Avenue, the new space will add up to around 10,000 square feet and be two stories tall.

Jewish Life Committee Chair at Hillel, Leah Bernstein, says the bigger space is necessary to accommodate the needs of more than 1,000 Jewish students on the UGA campus.

“I’m excited because we can have more people, and if we have larger events — fit way more [people] — and be able to have a bigger space,” Bernstein says.

The new building is located right across the street from some of UGA’s freshman dormitories.

Campus Director at Hillel, Jeremy Lichtig, said he hopes the close location will help new students feel like they have a safe place to quickly get to for studying or hanging out.

Around $7 million was raised by Hillels of Georgia for the full renovation and upkeep of the new building that’s taking the place of the former Baxter Street Bookstore. It will be outfitted with moveable walls, an outdoor study area, a coffee bar, a parking lot and a large dining space for events like Hillel’s weekly Shabbat dinners.

“It’s a symbol that Jews are accepted on campus,” Lichtig says. “It’s a symbol that the Jewish population is growing, it’s looked highly upon, it’s part of the community.”

Julianna Washburn is a fourth-year student majoring in journalism.

 

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