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Bradley’s Jewish community looking forward to new home

Hillel will open the doors to its fifth house on campus at 1530 Fredonia next semester.

Faculty Advisor Seth Katz said the new house will be doubled in size from the previous houses with a completely new interior layout, including large hang-out spaces, laundry rooms and two kitchens. The entire building will be handicapped-accessible, with restrooms on the first and second floors and an elevator. 

“On the main floor, there will be a large meeting/living/dining space that will seat 90 comfortably for a large dinner; there will be two kosher kitchens [one meat and one dairy], fully equipped and certified as kosher by the Chicago Rabbinical Counsel,” he said. “There will also be a small ‘cafe’ where students can hang out and have a nosh. On the second floor, there will an office, a small library and a large sanctuary with a vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows that will seat 120 for a religious service or speaker.”

Katz said expansion is greatly needed.

“Our old house is small and the space is awkwardly arranged,” he said. “While we were grateful to have a house, it simply did not work well for holding holiday and Shabbat dinners, speakers, religious services or most of our other programs. When I became Hillel advisor in 1998, I made it a priority to figure out how to have a building that would be designed to meet Hillel’s needs.”

The new house will allow for easier celebrations and will accommodate everyone, he said.

“I am very grateful for the assistance and ongoing encouragement of BU administration and staff in this project,” Katz said. “The new Hillel House will stand as one more testament to the university’s efforts to promote greater understanding of and appreciation for people’s different backgrounds and interests.”

All funds for the building were raised from private donors and Katz said  Hillel is grateful for the support.

“Bradley Hillel is grateful for ongoing support from the Jewish Federation of Peoria, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago and from the many parents, alumni and friends who support our programs,” he said. 

The Hillel House is the center of Bradley’s Jewish campus life and has been on campus since 1947, when it was founded by Allen Cannon, a Bradley professor of Music. 

Construction is expected to take about nine months, and will be finished in August.

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