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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 26, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 32
Hopkins Hillel Opens Doors to Its New Charles Street Home

Rabbi Joseph M. Menashe in front of the Smokler Center for Jewish Life, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building.

City's first free-standing Hillel facility will be dedicated on Sunday

By Amy Cowles

Johns Hopkins Hillel will celebrate on Sunday the opening of its new facility, the Smokler Center for Jewish Life, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building.

The building dedication will be held at 11 a.m. in a tent adjacent to Garland Hall. Following the ceremony, guests are invited to a reception and open house at the Smokler Center, located at 3109 N. Charles St., across from the Homewood campus.

The Smokler Center for Jewish Life, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building is Baltimore's first free-standing Hillel facility, offering students a multitude of ways to become involved in Jewish life. Students can relax in the Phi Sigma Delta Lounge, plan programs in the Student Leadership Suite, play games in the Commons, study and read in the Library and pray in the Beit Midrash. The 16,000-square-foot building also houses kosher meat and dairy kitchens, classroom and program space, an outdoor terrace, conference rooms, a multipurpose room, and staff and student offices.

A terrace offers students an outdoor spot for studying, eating or just hanging out. On the holiday of Sukkot, it will become a sukkah.

"The Smokler Center will inspire and house a Jewish community that reflects the essence of our tradition," Rabbi Joseph M. Menashe, director of Johns Hopkins Hillel, said last week. "I sincerely hope that all members of the Johns Hopkins University community will look upon the facility as a home that will spark meaningful social change and a place to find a diverse Jewish community devoted to learning and spiritual growth."

The center is named for alumnus Irving Smokler and his wife, Carol, who in 1999 made a generous contribution launching a campaign for the project. The building is also named for the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, which committed funding designated for construction and a challenge grant for the center's endowment. Contributions to the campaign, a cooperative effort of Hillel of Greater Baltimore and the university, are credited toward the university's current Knowledge for the World fund-raising campaign.

Susan Boswell, dean of student life at the Homewood campus, said, "I think that the Smokler Center will be a tremendous asset to student life at Johns Hopkins and look forward to its opening. I envision this as a popular gathering place for all students and am certain it will be well used and much appreciated."

With its wood ark and audio-visual equipment, the multipurpose room can be used for prayer services, meetings or movie viewing.

According to Marc B. Terrill, president of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, "The opening of this new facility is significant not only for the ways it enhances campus life at Johns Hopkins but for the way it enhances Jewish life throughout Baltimore. The Associated is proud of the work Hillel does to engage college-age youth, and we celebrate its continuing growth and success. We look forward to this building enabling Hillel to open dialogues between all races, creeds and cultures on campus."

Construction began in November 2002. The building was designed by Kann & Associates Inc. of Baltimore and was built by Kroll Construction of Owings Mills, Md.

Johns Hopkins Hillel is associated with Hillel of Greater Baltimore, a constituent agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. Hillel provides social, religious and educational services to undergraduate and graduate students in the greater Baltimore area.

The university has approximately 450 Jewish undergraduates.


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