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Kenyon Hillel Opens Its Doors


A reception for the new Rothenberg Hillel House will take place Friday, Oct. 24, at 5 p.m. at the house, followed by a dedication at 6 p.m. The events are open to the public.

Kenyon College Hillel - Gambier

Yom Kippur services at Rothenberg Hillel House. Photo by Henri Gendreau ’16

Bloomfield Architects, headed by Peter Bloomfield ’73, constructed the building to complement the look of its new neighbor, the Cox Health and Counseling Center, designed by Gund Partnership. The Hillel House features a chapel, storage for an ark and Torah, and two separate kitchens for kosher cooking and for those who keep halal.

Services ushering in Rosh Hashanah marked the first official events at the Hillel House. “To start the new year of 5775 in a new structure was really an amazing thing,” said Marc Bragin, Hillel director and Jewish chaplain.

The building already is becoming central to Kenyon’s campus. “Just stepping into it, you get an incredible sense of place and Jewish culture,” said Ben Marx ’17, an English major from Los Angeles.

Bragin agrees. “There’s really a spiritual sense to the place,” he said. “It’s a home of Jewish life without having anything here that’s specifically Jewish. The energy of the building reflects the community we have here. It’s brand new, but it’s comfortable like it’s always been here.”

The original Hillel House that was torn down last year to make room for the new health center was never meant to be permanent, said Alan Rothenberg ’67 P’96 H’10, a College trustee for whom the new building is named. “We’ve always known the cottage was a make-due, though it was very sweet, very Kenyonesque,” he said.

Donations from Rothenberg as well as from Beatrice Cummings Mayer P’71 H’87, Barry F. Schwartz ’70, Matthew A. Winkler ’77 P’13 H’00, the Steinberg Family Foundation, the Richard I. and Arline J. Landers Foundation, and many others made building the new house, at a total cost of $650,000, possible.

“All in all it’s been great,” Rothenberg said. “It gives me something to look at and feel proud.”

He added, “There’s one little sign hanging in the wind that will provide a home for Jewish life for a lot of years. It just felt right.”

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